Today we’d like to introduce you to JAM Poet.
So, before we jump into specific questions, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Like so many greats before me, I believe I was put on this earth to use my words to change the world.
As a black woman, it’s my job to take control of our narrative and rewrite our story as a people, as a movement, as a culture.
I’m a life long writer, and by the age of eight, it was evident that storytelling would be a huge part of my purpose. I had read 100 books in kindergarten, was writing short stories by the time I was in second grade, and when I got out of high school I’d won all the major writing awards in my school district. As a kid, my writing was about going on wild adventures, solving mysteries, and experiencing the unknown. But as I’ve grown older, my writing has been about women empowerment, the black experience, and self-love.
The part of my life that really catapulted my writing career was when I moved to NYC to attend the New School University. I graduated with a BA with Honors Distinction in Literary Studies. Moving from Las Vegas to NYC as a young writer completely changed my life. There is nothing more beneficial to a young writer than living the streets of The Big Apple where you’re surrounded by inspiration and history at every moment. I think every writer should live in NYC at some point in their career.
While in NYC, I interned with Belladonna, later becoming a curator for them in my senior year of college. I also was an Academic Fellow at my school, the co-founder of our school’s literary series, and I got also experience the New York waitress lifestyle. While I didn’t realize the extent of it, these years in NYC gave me the foundation I needed to do what I do now as a writer and event curator.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I’m a black woman writer in America — no part of my journey has been easy. I think the world expects a certain narrative from black women, so in a lot of ways, one obstacle I had to overcome was other people’s expectations. Everyone wants you to write the next “Beloved” or “The Color Purple” or “The Coldest Winter Ever” — but what you have to learn as a writer is to write no one’s story but your own. And don’t let anyone put you in a box.
Another challenging part of my writing career was finding a way to be a writer full time and get paid well. A college professor gave me the advice to find a job that lets you write as often as possible. So I spent a lot of my 20s trying to find the job that let me be creative while keeping me well fed. I’ve since developed a lucrative literary career alongside a career in freelance copywriting. Copywriting jobs are a Godsend for writers — the flexible schedule, the rate of pay, and the kind of work you do really makes being a professional poet so much easier.
We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
As a poet, I focus my writing on women empowerment. The Black Experience and self-love. I like poetry to punches you right in the face. That takes you by surprise. That breaks the bounds of poetry. That’s sensual, strange, angry and profound. I like poetry that leaves you stumbling to catch your heart. People often say they leave my performances feeling really empowered. My fans regard me for my voice, my intensity, my fearlessness.
My book “To Get Ahead” was published by JANCO in 2017. I’ve also been featured by Write About Now, Belladonna, Plot Twist Publishing, Analog Dope, Penn Sound, and Linger Post Magazine. This summer I’ll be published in EOAGH — a queer, trans, fem literary mag based in New York.
I’m co-Slammaster if FreeVerb LV – Las Vegas’ Premier Poetry Slam Team. We have been featured at MGM Resorts International and our team took 2nd place in the Utah Arts Fest in 2019.
In addition to being a poet and performer, I am the founder of The JAM LV Open Mic in the heart of Downtown Las Vegas. The JAM has become the home for underground talent in Sin City.
I’m an event host as well, having worked with Brave New Voices. Mike Xavier and many others.
Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
It’s hard to choose just one — I was blessed with a happy childhood. Maybe when we went back to the Midwest to visit my Grandma ‘Nita Cakes’. We spent all day with cousins we hadn’t seen in years, eating good food and playing old funk records on the radio. At sundown, we sat on the back porch — The Old heads yacking about time lost and love abound, while us kids watched fireflies emerge from the tall grass, twinkling through the field in a mesmerizing glow. We spent all night chasing each other, catching fireflies and cherishing the twilight of our youth.
- Instagram: @jam_poet @thejamlv @freeverblv
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