Ides of March poetry reading honors H.P. Jones

Mallory Kaul

Fans of English, history and poetry alike gathered together at the H.P. Jones Memorial Tree this Ides of March to commemorate the late, beloved history professor for which it was named. In one of his most profound traditions, each Ides of March entails reading a few favorite poems from any faculty, family or students wishing to participate in the decades-long custom. 

Horace “H.P.” Jones touched the life of each of his students during his 47 years at ULM, and his positive influence continues to be felt even after his passing. Jones dedicated the Ides of March as a time for his two favorite things—poetry and students—to come together.

A plethora of classic poets was enjoyed, from Shelley to Dickinson, including two personal poems written by attendees. Each reading was followed by two claps done in unison, so that each poem received the same amount of love—as is the Jones tradition.

The children of Jones were present, as they always are, having never missed a single reading since Jones’ funeral. They donated t-shirts to all the attendees, bearing an image of Jones reading on a previous Ides of March. 

“When he passed away, the faculty asked if they could do anything,” Kathy Jones, the youngest of Jones’ daughters, said. “My only request was that they kept the Ides of March poetry reading going.” 

She remembers the event as being something very important to her father, as poetry always was. “As children, he would solve all of our problems by reading us a poem,” Kathy Jones said.

ULM history professor Jeff Anderson has since headed the event, which he considers to be a great honor. 

“It wasn’t always a structured event like it is now,” Anderson said. “Dr. Jones wanted students to be able to come together and share something.” 

Anderson carries out Jones’ flair for the theatrical by wearing a Viking helmet and drinking Starbucks coffee from an ale horn. 

Anna Bounds, president of ULM’s historical society Phi Alpha Theta, reported that she is always excited to be a part of such an important event. 

“We are preserving history with this event,” Bounds said. “It shows how to respect and honor people of the past and have them remembered in the future.”