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ISBN: 978-1-62557-044-4
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Categories Poetry

Hood Vacations

Publication Date: January 2023


2024 Lambda Literary Award Winner – Transgender Poetry

Michal “MJ” Jones’ debut Hood Vacations is a rhythmic & quiet rumbling – an unflinching recollection of Blackness, queerness, gender, and violence through lenses of family lineage and confessional narrative. A nostalgia for an unreachable home permeates these poems: “We were mighty beautiful once, in golden dust.” The speaker of Hood Vacations tells of magic: of praying mantises, bathtub octopuses, Black ghosts, & bringing back “rainbow soap colors”. It is a book of passing – as, through, and on. Hop on in.


Hood Vacations is a massive triumph of lyric, of narrative brilliance, of imagery. But, above all, this book is generously transportative. The page becomes a portal through which a place emerges, and then becomes as familiar as your own home.
-Hanif Abdurraqib

Hood Vacations is a tender debut that takes us on a journey of Black childhood in the suburbs, the awakening of political consciousness, and the self-determination of young adulthood. It is a narrator that goes from child to parent, and the attendant worries and joys that come from being responsible for growing life. Jones deploys a variety of received and innovative poetic forms that engage in a formal shaping and reshaping of content to produce different registers of praise, recollection, and discernment. Like an afternoon of listening to the smooth jazz channel, we move through a set of biological and social relationships that imbricate the narrator in a web of becoming.
-Arisa White

It is a rare gift to read a first book by a poet whose vision is so sharp and who knows how to articulate it in a poem. Jones has so much to say and they know how to say it. I am enthralled by what I learn from these poems but I am in awe of their seriousness, their care, and their reach.

-Juliana Spahr

Hood Vacations is a melodically precise collection of journeys away from, back towards, and directly into what is both familiar and refreshing. A series of scene-setting poems inviting the reader to dine at a table prepared with an African diasporic flare. These poems are packed with lines of tiny songs that read like the blackest and most urgent spells being cast. For our protection, for our re-memory, for our future.

-Darius Simpson

About the Author

Michal ‘MJ’ Jones

Michal ‘MJ’ Jones is a Pushcart Prize nominated poet & parent in Oakland, CA. Their poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Anomaly, Kissing Dynamite, Muzzle Magazine, and TriQuarterly Review. They have a debut full-length poetry collection HOOD VACATIONS from Black Lawrence Press, nominated for the 2024 Lambda Literary Award in Transgender Poetry, and a chapbook, SOFT ARMOR, from Nomadic Press. Often addressing the troubling and haunting aspects of life, violence, and identity, MJ’s work blends the lyrical, documentary, and confessional modes. MJ serves as the Editor-In-Chief of Foglifter Press, a premier journal publishing trans and queer literature. They have received fellowships from Lambda Literary, Hurston/Wright Foundation, VONA/Voices, & Kearny Street Workshop. They received their MFA in Poetry from Mills College, where they received the distinguished Community Engagement Fellowship.

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