Saeed Jones’ work—online and in verse—engages readers across the media spectrum.
On paper, it may seem that Saeed Jones is living a double life. The founding editor of BuzzFeed’s groundbreaking LGBTQA section, Jones GSN’10 is now the executive editor of culture, overseeing the website’s daily deluge of pop culture news stories, essays, videos, quizzes, and more.
Outside the fast-paced, click-oriented culture of his day job, Jones is also the celebrated poet behind Prelude to Bruise (Coffee House Press, 2014), a collection that examines race, gender, sexuality, and identity. And he has a forthcoming memoir, which will be published by Simon & Schuster.
But, if you ask Jones, his two worlds—the literary and the mainstream—converge much more often than he thought possible. At BuzzFeed, he’s the force behind a number of new initiatives that bolster literary talent and conversation. One is BuzzFeed Reader, a section for cultural commentary and creative writing. Another is the Emerging Writers Fellowship, which recruits and nurtures a diverse group of creative writers by bringing them into the BuzzFeed fold and teaching them the ropes of pitching, networking, and getting their work published.
And, in many ways, the two worlds of his writing also fuel each other, marked by a love of language and an engagement with readers across the spectrum. “A poem can be anything, and so can online content, whether it’s a video or essay or investigative journalism—or all of the above,” he says. “What’s important is not how we have the conversation, but rather that we have it. What’s important is that the work looks people in the eye.” •