The Creative Wellness Project: Part II Jasmine LaShae
1. Tell us about your background and what inspired you to start writing?
I grew up in West Philadelphia. My love for writing stemmed, of course, from my love for reading. As a kid I was amazed by the way books could transport readers to other times and places and it became a dream of mine to be able to create new realities that people like me could escape to. When I was 5 years old I started writing short stories, plays, and comics, constantly asking my kindergarten teacher Ms. Helen to spell every other word. In middle I switched from writing fiction to writing poetry. I no longer wanted to hide from my realities, I wanted to address them directly and poetry became a way for me to process life.
2. What does your writing aim to do?
In college I started taking my poetry off of the page and putting it on the stage by participating in poetry slams. To me, one of the most important aspects of poetry is to build connections and doing spoken word allows me to connect with so many other people. All of my poetry is personal but I also aim to make it relatable, in hopes that my audience or readers are able to see their own stories in mine. Since I’ve started performing I’ve been able to compete in poetry slams locally at The Fuze and The Pigeon Presents: The Philadelphia Poetry and nationally at the National Poetry Slam in 2014 and 2015 and the Individual World Poetry Slam 2015. I was also able to join Babel Poetry Collective out of Temple University which does two showcases a year and performs throughout Philly, and I’ve personally been invited to perform at venues around the city as well. All of these platforms have allowed me to share work that I’m passionate about and continue to build connections with newer and bigger crowds.
3. What has been your biggest challenge and how do you overcome it?
As a poet one of my biggest challenges has been writing about social/political issues. I write poetry about my personal life so it is rare that I talk about issues like racism, sexism, police brutality, etc. that I do feel strongly about. However, I believe that writers are historian in a way and that it is our responsibility to document what is going on the world around us. I try to challenge myself by writing pieces that deal with social/political issue that still come from very personal experiences.
4. Who’s your favorite writer and why? What book would you recommend everyone should read?
My favorite author is Jacqueline Woodson. She’s a queer black woman who writes relevant and important books for children and young adults, particularly in themes of race, identity, and overcoming hardships. I think her stories offer a unique amount of realness that isn’t typical of fiction for children and young adult, particularly ones of color. I would recommend any one of her books to anyone regardless of age or race but specifically I want to put her books in the hands of black children who are in these education systems where the only images they’ll be given of people who look like them are those of slaves.
5. Do you have a creative wellness practice? Something creative that you do to encourage yourself to take better care of yourself?
No. Admittedly I am not very good at taking care of myself or actively practicing wellness. I am at this point in my life where there is a lot of instability, stress, overwork, and just overall lack of routine. Being so busy and constantly pulled in several directions, I haven’t been able to find the time to take care of myself. I wouldn’t know where to start.