Television Fathers
by Sylvia Jones

70 pages
Publication date: 10/1/2024
ISBN 978-1-950987-54-2
$17 (Preorder Online)

Sylvia Jones’s Television Fathers creates a wholly new lens. With poems reminiscent of iconoclasts such as James Tate or Jay Wright, Jones’s voice is playful and pithy, simultaneously reimagining the past and reveling in the absurd contemporary—her gaze never straying from social inequity, nor from the personal scales of fate. A heavily saturated debut collection of unsuspecting interiority, Television Fathers is the future of modern poetry.

Read “Man and Shotgun with Alien” online in Shenandoah.

“Of Two Minds” in Diagram.

And two more in The Cortland Review.

About the Author

Sylvia Jones is a writer, editor, and prison abolitionist. Born in Staten Island and raised in Virginia, she works part-time as an adjunct lecturer in creative writing at Goucher College and George Washington University. She earned her MFA from American University in Washington D.C. and lives in Baltimore, MD. She also teaches poetry with the Goucher Prison Education Partnership. Her writing appears in DIAGRAM, Smartish Pace, the Santa Clara Review, Shenandoah, R & R Journal, The Poetry Society of New York, The Cortland Review, Sprung Formal and other notable publications. She has received support from the Cleveland Museum of Art; The Stadler Center for Poetry and Literary Arts; Baltimore Office of Promotion & the Arts; Topical Cream; Poets at the End of the World; Mountaineer Books; OUTWriteDC; Literary Cleveland; The Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay, and Transgender Community Center of New York; and the Maryland State Arts Council.

Praise for Television Fathers

“The pleasure in reading (and reading) Television Fathers is that revisiting each poem creates a new sensation. Sylvia Jones’ collection is a sublime alchemy of the senses, an illumination of how relatable the most potent memories are through Jones’ singular voice. Television Fathers encompasses the power of art in shaping and archiving. Each poem is a gift, a soulful observation and total immersion in our past & present.” —Jennifer Baker, editor, Everyday People: The Color of Life 

“The poems in Sylvia Jones’s Television Fathers read as if they were written tomorrow, but it’s a tomorrow in which everybody’s senses are keener than we can expect them to be. In these poems, Jones perceives, and pulls her readers toward her perceptions, startlingly: “Later on, I will watch a man wrap his car into a tree, and listen for the people, melting into the trees.” It’s that last clause, “melting into the trees,” in which Jones’s art is most apparent—that clause requires you to step into the poem and to stand where Jones is standing in order to begin to make sense of it. You are included. Your way of listening is included. You are included in these poems.” —Shane McCrae, author of Auction Block

“The poems of Sylvia Jones offer us a dizzying array of modes and registers—there are terse and snarling epigrams, surrealist catalogues, celebrations and interrogations of pop culture, laments and elegies. She sees the manifold ironies and injustices of our doom-scrolling culture, and has the audacity to regard her poems—and the poems that she samples and loves—as a slyly subversive balm against the cant and cacophony. This makes for a stunning debut.” —David Wojahn, author of World Tree

“A lot of poets these days sound like camp counselors. They read their saccharine poems in hushed tones and we’re all supposed to nod reverently and be blown away. These poets put me to sleep. Thank god we have a poet named Sylvia Jones who isn’t like that. The poems in Television Fathers defy easy categorization, they take risks, they make me laugh, they wrestle with big issues like mass shootings and racism and class, and they also wrestle with smaller issues like how awkward it can be to order a drink at a bar or how difficult it can sometimes be to connect your AirPods to your phone. It’s a blessing to read a poet who doesn’t pander, a poet who is so completely herself.” —Joseph Grantham, author of Raking Leaves and Tom Sawyer

“In Television Fathers, Sylvia Jones writes, ‘what is incomprehensible will be comprehended.’ She hears WANDA COLEMAN, BOB KAUFMAN, and becomes DON DRAPER “again, informal, fluid” eulogizing NORMAN LEAR. HARRIET TUBMAN begets an image of Andrew Jackson with a LIL WAYNE neck tattoo. And Grandma calls to say STEVE BIKO’s forehead looks shiny as hell. Rats ooze into a Rottweiler–robots roam the streets. And now, the childhood home’s become an airbnb, a brothel for vacationing millennials with hallelujah money. The side door’s the only way in. Lick the grave of GWYNDOLYN BROOKS. Affirmative action is donating plasma. Self actualization is a watermelon without seeds. Television Fathers is a transmission for our end-of-times, a prophecy priced out of the zeitgeist–and only Sylvia Jones can/will say it.” —Ashleigh Bryant Phillips, author of Sleepovers.