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Book Review :: Hood Vacations by Michal ‘MJ’ Jones

Hood Vacations by Michal MJ Jones book cover image

Guest Post by Susan Kay Anderson

I love seeing the various styles/forms of poems in Hood Vacations by Michal “MJ” Jones and the way they’re never the same from one to the next. This variety shows hard work and willingness to bend. I especially admire how one moment we could be skirting Nate Mackey’s style in Double Trio, and then the next poem is like a small concentration in the mode of Tom Clark. Filled with backslashes, “Turnstiles” is a one-stanza poem about the author’s young son. It is interesting to see how the use of this punctuation flips readers through Jones’ narrative in the poem:

[. . . ] He’s exhausted bones/by nautical
twilight I gaze/between crib bars/brown skin/in deepening dusk

Societal and racial violence, family issues, birth, identity, and travel to hot springs are topics Jones makes fascinating through restrained telling that turns wild, full of expletives and eroticism. I appreciate that there are longer poems here. “Channelings” is seven pages long, in seven sections, so it is a pleasure to read in such a sensible layout and such a relief to see and read a poem this way. Hood Vacations is a break with something to show for, something to keep us there. Exquisite!

Hood Vacations by Michal ‘MJ’ Jones. Black Lawrence Press, January 2023.

Reviewer bio: Susan Kay Anderson lives in southwestern Oregon’s Umpqua River Basin. Her long poem “Man’s West Once” was selected for Barrow Street Journal’s “4 X 2 Project” and is included in Mezzanine (2019). Anderson also published Virginia Brautigan Aste’s memoir, Please Plant This Book Coast To Coast (2021).

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