Brisbane: Self-published, Unknown (late 1970s). Billy Jones. Print of one of Jones's many nature- and sunflower-themed illustrations, 6100 x 4000mm. One corner slightly bruised. Near fine. Item #533
In March 2018 Archives Fine Books acquired the better portion of the personal library of Queensland-based poet and artist Billy Jones (1935 – 2012). Upward of 400 (mostly) poetry volumes, many of the books are heavily underlined and bear notes at the beginning and end. These appear in Jones’s distinctive block capitals, often in felt tipped pen and bleeding through the page. From amusing confessions of book theft, to notes about meeting publishers and selling artworks, to carnal post-coital reflections and attempts to touch the ineffable, the marks and marginalia in Jones’s personal library seem to catch the overflow of his 167 journals. Many first edition volumes of poetry and chapbooks in the collection are largely unmarked but bear affectionate inscriptions to “Billy”, “B.J.” and “Billy Bones” by well known Australian and American poets of the 1970s through to the naughties. Variously mundane, poetic, and cryptic, these inscriptions give a sense that despite leaving behind an enormous collection of unpublished work Jones was deeply respected and beloved of his contemporaries. Taken together with his marginalia and underlining the impression is given of a large and incandescent life lived on the margins: outside the mainstream, outside the cultural centres and sometimes literally ‘outside’ - in a tent on the banks of Mary Smokes Creek. In amongst the collection were two copies of this print of one of his original line drawings. It is not known how many copies Jones made, but if he made prints with same exuberance that wrote and drew then there could be many. This however appears to be the only one currently on the market.