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Hettie Jones (born 1934 as Hettie Cohen) is best known for her memoir of the Beat Scene, as well as the preceding 20 books she published for children and young adults, which include the award winning The Trees Stand Shining, and Big Star Fallin' Mama: Five Women in Black Music. Jones is the mother of two daughters, Kellie Jones and Lisa Jones Brown.
While known for her three volumes of poetry, Jones has received acclaim for her memoir, How I Became Hettie Jones (published 1990 by Grove Press and still in print and as an audible book), which describes her marriage to LeRoi Jones (later Amiri Baraka) and her friendships with such popular Beat generation figures as Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, Frank O'Hara, Joel Oppenheimer, and Charles Olson, among others. A focal point of the work is also her struggle to find an identity, as an outcast of her Jewish family and wife of a black artist during the Civil Rights Movement.
Jones held various clerical jobs at Partisan Review and started the literary magazine Yugen with her husband. She has taught writing at SUNY Purchase, Penn State, the University of Wyoming and elsewhere, and is currently on the faculty in the graduate program in creative writing at The New School in New York City. Jones has also taught memoir for many years at the 92Y Poetry Center in New York. From 1989-2002 she ran a writing workshop at the New York State Correctional Facility for Women at Bedford Hills, which included inmate Judy Clark as a student, and which published a nationally distributed collection, Aliens At The Border. Jones is a former chair of the PEN Prison Writing Committee. She also authored a memoir for Rita Marley, widow of Bob Marley. More recently she has received grants to begin a writing program on Manhattan's Lower East Side at the Lower Eastside Girls Club Center for Community. Jones's 24th book, Love, H, a selection from 40 years of correspondence with the sculptor Helene Dorn, was published by Duke University Press in October 2016.
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