Hendersonville poet and abstract artist Henry L. Jones was named the city’s first poet laureate in a brief ceremony at the Hendersonville Public Library on March 4.
Jones, a Detroit native and 1988 graduate of Fisk University, settled in Hendersonville nearly two decades ago with his wife and three children – sharpening his skills as both an accomplished painter and a published poet.
“Our poet laureate will be encouraging higher literacy and a greater joy of reading,” said Hendersonville Mayor Jamie Clary. “I encourage citizens to recognize Mr. Jones for his work and dedication to promote literacy.”
Jones will serve in the largely ceremonial role at no cost to the city and will help coordinate events that promote an appreciation for the arts and literature with library staff members.
“The long-term goal of this decision is for Hendersonville to be an even more attractive place to raise families and bring businesses to,” Clary added.
Perhaps best known locally as an abstract artist whose work has hung in several exhibits at the Monthaven Arts and Cultural Center in Hendersonville and the Scarritt-Bennett Center in Nashville, Jones is an accomplished poet as well.
After publishing his book of poetry, Run into Blackness: Feeling My Poetic Gumbo, Jones was a panel author and featured poet at the Southern Festival of Books in 2010.
He has shared his poetry at universities, cultural events and poetry venues including OZ Arts Nashville; Lyrical Brew, Barnes & Noble Vanderbilt and the Scarritt-Bennett Center’s Poetry Corner.
His work has appeared in publications like Chicago Quarterly, The Herald Literary Journal, Urban Flavor, Black Digest, Murfreesboro Majesty and Chicago Writes Journal.
“I’ve seen lives transformed by poetry,” Jones told those who attended the small induction ceremony last week.
Jones said that he was encouraged to read at a young age by his grandmother.
“My grandmother said when you read a book, you can go anywhere in the world,” he noted. “Whenever my brother and I would go visit her, the first thing she always asked us was, ‘what are you reading?’”
Jones hopes to spark that passion for reading and the printed word in others through his work at the library.
His focus for March will be celebrating of Women’s History Month.