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ISBN: 978-1-955239-39-4
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Categories Chapbooks, Nomadic, Poetry

Soft Armor

Publication Date: February 2023


In June of 2023, Black Lawrence Press welcomed numerous existing and forthcoming Nomadic Press titles to our catalogue. Soft Armor was originally published by Nomadic.

Soft Armor is a meditation on love in its many enactments and forms —romantic, parental, ecological, spiritual, and communal. It is an insistence on being in love with a burning, disappearing, and increasingly elusive world, each poem its own testimony.


Soft Armor is an offering of tenderness, of witness, of hope. As a ‘quiet seer,’ Jones urges readers not to look away from ecological crisis, late-capitalist brutality, and racist violence, but to ‘praise what remains,’ whether romantic love, familiar nurturance, or enduring beauty of the natural world. There’s no better poet to ‘unpack the wild wild of it,’ leading the reader into a future that we can only build together.
Luiza Flynn-Goodlett, author of Look Alive

Soft Armor is a passionate phoenix of love poems birthed out of the refuse of a Necropastoral landscape, where the poet embraces the wisdom and devastation of our natural and unnatural world to boldly indulge and relish the intimacy of self-love, romantic love, and love flowing from parent to child, body to earth and back completing a circuit that declares ‘I am more here than I ever have been.’ MJ’s lexicon of love is an assertion of being alive at the End of the World and loving on purpose.
Nefertiti Asanti, author of fist of wind

A tunnel of true love: where the body, the spirit, the allure of intimacy & reverie meet. Michal “MJ” Jones has led us down a pathway of sweet heat, inviting us to soften our ethos into a cloud of earthy constellations begging to braid itself together. Soft Armor grounds us into the heart & a wonderland of multiple heavens; cooing its readers to ponder: what is our lovemaking without the bravery to see another fully? Can our shadows dance even after the heart breaks? Is sweetness an elixir of life or a spell cast simply highlighting the fruit of god? How was there a me before meeting/knowing/raising you? Where will the compass of our feet lead us next? this collection invites us to stay in the frequency of love on all levels. It’s lushness. It’s unwavering trunk. It’s ever-revolving leaves. Even the mud made of the dirt it grows from. It reminds us to be rooted in our desires. Our hopes. our dreams. Our lessons. Our bodies & our willingness to dig deeper into our possibilities than ever before.
Mimi Tempestt, author of the monumental misremembering

In cadence and hue, Michal Jones offers us a sensual sanctuary in Soft Armor. What better way to describe gentle scars than through ‘God’s melodious hands.’ What endearing language Jones offers us here, first through the possibility of image —a dipped tongue swelling, then through the candor of love. I am in debt to Jones for writing what they must: a blueprint for affinity, a manual on sentiment and an assemblage we should arm ourselves with.
Daniel B. Summerhill, Author of DIVINE, DIVINE, DIVINE

In Soft Armor, Jones christens us with concise stanzas embedded in flourish and temperature; how the arcs are vibrant and achy with richness! The range of approach this text brings, opens up a vulnerable heart: ‘you’ve got gumption to pack as many supernovas into this thin life.’ Yes, to the gumption found in these pages whether housed in Oakland or Sedona, each compromised of morsels of grace, anguish, and irrevocable queer tenderness. Let this book vex us and bring us balm, remind us there is room for incalculable love “with eyes wide open & steady.
Kay Ulanday Barrett, author of More Than Organs

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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