The recordings featured here are drawn from a range of Jones's collections but they all share his determination to root his poems in the real. In a revealing interview given in 2006 Jones talks about how his poems make use of "images that I have either seen or that I've been told about. The places are places I know." Often his poems have their origin in a sensual experience, as in 'The Mosquito' with its painful evocation of a nocturnal bite, or the celebration of 'Rain on Tin' which remembers how in a downpour "the nerves woke like secret agents under the skin." Elsewhere it's an image or incident from his rural past that is the trigger; his mother's fastidious way of picking cotton in 'On Pickiness' for instance, or the arrival of the first television set in his community in 'TV'.
These 'spots of time' are a means to meditation and reflection - while his work consistently seeks "a language that will express the past", as one critic has noted, he also moves from the specific to the general as he considers the ramifications of these intensely registered memories. So we learn in his introduction to 'The Mosquito' that the poem's images of violation and tone of dread were inspired by the war in El Salvador and the conviction that "peace will not happen in my life". In 'On Pickiness' his mother's habit of harvesting the cotton too carefully becomes an examination of the poetic craft, whether there is such a thing as being too perfect in a poem, too controlled and fluent. It's a danger that Jones is constantly alert to, committed as he is to telling the truth, something he traces back to his strict religious upbringing. His moving poem 'Life of Sundays' dramatises these contradictions as he explores his nostalgia for the singular atmosphere of the 'Lord's Day', with its rituals and specially designated language of sermons and prayers. While he no longer worships at church, he respects the past which "Must always be honoured unconsciously, formally..." Jones achieves the balance between truth-telling and formal mastery implied by these words in all the poems featured here. They are simultaneously carefully wrought and intimate, qualities which are brought out by Jones's reading style. Described by one critic as "one of the best, most generous, and most brilliantly readable poets currently making poems in America", on this evidence he is also one of the most listenable, his attractive deep Southern 'drawl' highly evocative of the Alabama he both celebrates and criticises.
His recording was made on 1 March 2008 in New York.