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Jon Davis

Poems, Stories, Essays, Screenplays

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Jon Davis

Jon Davis is the author of six chapbooks and seven full-length poetry collections, including, most recently, Above the Bejeweled City (Grid Books, 2021) and Choose Your Own America (Finishing Line 2022). Davis also co-translated Iraqi poet Naseer Hassan’s Dayplaces (Tebot Bach, 2017). He has received a Lannan Literary Award, the Lavan Prize from the Academy of American Poets, a Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown Fellowship, and two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships. His poems have appeared in numerous anthologies, including Four Quartets: Poetry in the Pandemic; Poetry is Bread; Photographers, Writers, and the American Scene; Poet’s Choice; Sixty Years of American Poetry; The Best of the Prose Poem; No Boundaries: Prose Poems by 24 American Poets; and Telling Stories: A Writer's Anthology and have been translated into Spanish, Arabic, KiSwahili, and Vietnamese. His own translations have appeared in Two Lines, Waxwing, Drunken Boat, Taos Journal of Poetry & Art, The Literary Review, and Diode. Davis’s short stories have appeared in Denver Quarterly, Monkeybicycle, Flash, Versal, The Stockholm Review, Barrelhouse, Platte Valley Review, McSweeney's Internet Tendency, Salt Hill, A-Minor, failbetter, and the anthologies Flash Fiction Funny and Funny Bone. Short films made from his scripts have been screened at ImagineNATIVE Film and Media Festival, The Santa Fe Film Festival, National Geographic All Roads Film Festival, the National Museum of the American Indian Native American Film and Video Festival, the American Indian Film Festival, and on Canada’s Channel One. His one-act play, Anna Without Angels, was given a staged reading by Umbrella Hat Theater Company of New York. He edited the literary journals CutBank, Shankpainter, and Countermeasures, and guest-edited for Provincetown Arts, the Oregon Literary Review, and the Iowa Review. He taught creative writing and literature for thirty years, two at Salisbury University and twenty-eight at the Institute of American Indian Arts. In 2013, he founded the Low Residency MFA in Creative Writing at IAIA, which he directed until his retirement in 2018. From 2012-2014, he served as the City of Santa Fe’s fourth poet laureate.Since retiring, he has been editing poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. Email for details.

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Fiction Editing

I am providing comprehensive fiction critiques. Click "Contact" for details and pricing.

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Poetry Editing

I am providing poetry critiques, instruction, and manuscript consultations. Click "Contact" for details and pricing.

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Poetry doesn’t explain the world; it rescues the world from explanation.

--Chuck Calabreze

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Above the Bejeweled City

From Grid Books, September 2021

In Above the Bejeweled City, Jon Davis’ seventh book of poetry, Davis exhibits the range and mastery that is the result of fifty years of study, teaching, and practice. The book opens and closes with homages to Federico Garcia Lorca’s dream-struck ballad “Romance Sonámbulo.” In between, he inhabits what the philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty calls the “inexplicable existence” that marks our passage here on Earth. Part absurdist, part satirist, part tender correspondent, Davis writes in the slipstream of writers like Joyce, Beckett, Parra, and Plath. In an age that calls out for hopeful verse, Above the Bejeweled City offers, instead, a treatise on defeat and despair—and on how letting go is a way of holding on.

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Choose Your Own America


"As an Immigrant-American, I believe that instead of that propagandistic, bald-eagle-point-of-viewed country music video they show at citizenship ceremonies, we would do better with Jon Davis' Choose Your Own America. These poems, both political and nipping at the heart, lyrical and essayistic alike, locate us inside a much more honest and existentially porous dystopian prophesy. Though it suggests we have choices, its disaffected tone makes our souls watch our every move. Where are the humans? ir asks--and answers, too."

                                --Ismet Prcic, author of Shards

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An Amiable Reception for the Acrobat

September 23, 2019

In Acrobat, Jon Davis, poet of jazz, blues, and misery, of daughters and horses, of regret, asks the questions we’ve been avoiding. What if we were wrong about art’s humanitarian potential? What if all this time we should have been feeling instead of naming? What do we do with the dawning realization that the apocalypse, by comparison, turns out to be the easier choice? This is the work of a great, and largely unsung American poet at his most relentless, at his most and least wise; it is a map to hold in our hands as we fly off the end of the world. 

                                -Pam Houston, author of Deep Creek, Finding                                          Hope In The High Country

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Upcoming Events

  • Reading at Millsaps College with Richard Tillinghast
    Reading at Millsaps College with Richard Tillinghast
    Tue, Feb 21
    Feb 21, 2023, 7:00 PM CST
    Jackson, 1701 N State St, Jackson, MS 39210, USA
    Feb 21, 2023, 7:00 PM CST
    Jackson, 1701 N State St, Jackson, MS 39210, USA
  • The DMQ Virtual Salon
    The DMQ Virtual Salon
    Sun, Mar 06
    Mar 06, 2022, 5:05 AM
    Mar 06, 2022, 5:05 AM
    “The Ghost of Denis Johnson” & “Above the Bejeweled City”: For this reading, I decided to read two dream-inspired poems from Above the Bejeweled City (Grid Books, 2021).
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