|(Photo Credit: Susan Aurinko)|
Raised on the Midwestern North Shores of Evanston, IL, Parneshia Jones spent her childhood in the Evanston Public Library and her mother’s kitchen.
Writing and life intersected as an undergraduate at Chicago State University with a chance meeting with the late Gwendolyn Brooks. This one-on-one meeting of three poems, red marks and the words, “Hold On!” gave Jones lift-off into the literary world. Under the tutelage of Dr. Kelly Norman Ellis, Haki R. Madhubuti, and some of the most brilliant teaching minds that made up the English department at CSU, Jones earned her B.A. in English/Creative Writing.
The world of publishing unveiled itself with the overflowing shelves, mahogany floors, and the rich history of Third World Press, the oldest independent publisher of Black thought and literature in the United States. It was within these stained glass and poetry filled quarters, Parneshia embraced the idea of a career in publishing.
Parneshia began working for Northwestern University Press at the age of twenty-two as a marketing assistant. For the past twelve years, she has worked with writers of Nobel, Pulitzer Prize, and Academy Award winning caliber. Her experience with authors from around the globe and publishing in the fields of poetry, fiction, theater and performance, literature in translation and philosophy, has allowed for Parneshia to travel the globe, all for the love of literature. Currently, Parneshia holds positions as Sales and Community Outreach Manager and Poetry Editor at Northwestern University Press. Her first poetry acquisition, Head Off & Split: Poems, by Nikky Finney won the 2011 National Book Award for Poetry. Her second acquisition, The Abundance of Nothing, by Bruce Weigl, was a finalist for The Pulitzer Prize (2013). Her collaborations with the Cave Canem Foundation allowed for the Cave Canem Northwestern University Press 2nd Book Prize for an African American poet in addition to numerous collaborations with poetry organizations across the globe.
Parneshia earned a M.F.A degree from Spalding University (a top-10 low residency MFA program, Poets & Writers) and completed the Yale Publishing Course while working for Northwestern University Press.
Recipient of the Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Award, the Margaret Walker Short Story Award, and the Aquarius Press Legacy Award, Parneshia is a Ragdale Fellow and published in several anthologies including She Walks in Beauty: A Woman’s Journey Through Poems, edited by Caroline Kennedy; The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South, edited by Nikky Finney, as well as Poetry Speaks Who I Am, a book/CD compilation. Jones is a member of the Affrilachian Poets, a collective of Black voices from Appalachia and serves on the board of Cave Canem and GlobalWrites. She has performed her work all over the United States, including the Nuyorican Poets Cafe in New York City, the Art Institute in Chicago, and Vanderbilt University. Her poetry has been commissioned by Art for Humanity in South Africa, Shorefront Legacy, and featured on Chicago Public Radio. In 2014, Parneshia was named one of the “25 Writers to Watch” by the Guild Complex and one of “Lit 50: Who Really Books in Chicago” by Newcity Magazine. Her first collection, Vessel: Poems, is published by Milkweed Editions (April, 2015).