Writers like Jasmine Mans do not come around often. Hailing from Newark, New Jersey, Mans starred as a member of the Strivers Row which featured poets like Zora Howard, NAACP Image Award nominee Joshua Bennett, Cave Canem Fellow Alysia Harris, Hamilton's Carvens Lissaint and Luminary Media's Miles Hodges. In 2016, more of the world became familiar with her name when her poem, "Footnotes For Kanye," went viral. Having toured the world with her poetry and racked up millions of views across social media, Mans returns home and gives back to the place and people that have always had her back. In her hometown, Mans works as the Newark Public Library Poet In-Residence. While there, she helps promote literary and visual arts across the Newark area. Through all of that, she still finds time to write, write and write some more.
Her latest work of poetry, Black Girl, Call Home, arrives just time in time for National Poetry Month. Both honest and curious, Mans' new book is an open letter to the young Black girls and wise Black women who have guided her. During the process of putting together this book, Mans grew close to the women that inspired much of her work.
"I’ve learned so much. It’s interesting where God will take you, because while I was writing this book, my grandmother was going through her cancer treatment. I spent a lot of time editing the poems at her chemotherapy treatments and sitting, having coffee with her, and taking meetings while she’s napping in front of me. Right when the book finished, the pandemic came, and that gave me a different energy to put toward my family," Mans told Hannah Phifer of Zora.
"I wrote all of these words, but when the pandemic came, I had to show up as a different type of woman. I had to mature. I have grown up tremendously with this book. In a great way it holds me accountable to the daughter and to the mother I would like to be. I’m truly using the book for how I show up for the women in my life whom I love, from lovers to my mother and my grandmother. It’s a relationship to always be worked on, and that’s where I am."
As her books fly off shelves and land in mailboxes, Mans hopes that this book will help one person, a hundred people or a million people. She describes this piece of literature as a "utility of education."
"I hope that women read these stories and feel like someone sees them and they’re noticed. I want this book to provide comfort. I want this book to be a utility for education. I hope this book gives women of other races an opportunity to hear another Black girl’s story that exists in the canon," she explained.
"There are so many things I want this book to do, but most importantly, I want it to provide warmth and relativity."
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