March 8, 2020
CELEBRATING WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH: JASMINNE MENDEZ
The Latina Book Club is Celebrating Women’s History Month by showcasing female authors and poets all this month.
We thank these fearless women for joining the celebration and sharing their works with us. Enjoy!
JASMINNE MENDEZ is a poet, playwright, educator and award winning author. Mendez has had poetry and essays published by or forthcoming in The New England Review, Crab Creek Review, Kenyon Review, Gulf Coast, The Rumpus, and others. She is the author of two poetry/prose collections ISLAND OF DREAMS (Floricanto Press, 2013) which won an International Latino Book Award, and NIGHT-BLOOMING JASMIN(N)E: Personal Essays and Poetry (Arte Publico Press, 2018). She is a Pushcart Prize nominee, and has received fellowships from Canto Mundo and the Kenyon Review Writer's Workshop among others. She is an MFA graduate of the creative writing program at the Rainier Writer's Workshop at Pacific Lutheran University, and University of Houston alumni.
GETTING TO KNOW YOU
It's Women's History Month. What three women inspire you most? Any female authors?
JM: The three women that inspire me the most are: my mother, Frida Kahlo, and Lucille Clifton and Patricia Smith (black poets).
Do you think a woman can be President of the U.S.?
JM: I do think a woman can and should be president and I hope to see it in my lifetime.
If poetry is a song, what music would be playing at your house?
JM: Almost any kind of bachata (but preferably the old school kind), the rhythm, motion, "1, 2, 3" step of it all reminds me of poetry. How bachata moves and feels in the body is how poetry moves and feels in the body to me, that it can be fast or slow, loud or soft, that in the pickup of that hip or leg or foot there's a pause/a breath, that bachata began as a revolution in the DR, the poor fighting back against oppression and dictatorship (Trujillo hated bachata), but it's also music about love and loss and the blues. Bachata has a very specific dance step and rhythm, the way a sonnet or a villanelle has a specific structure, but within that there is so much freedom and creativity at what's expressed. Bachata relies heavily on the guitar, the way a poem relies heavily on the line, to me the strings of the guitar are like the lines of a poem.
What are you working on now? When will it be published?
JM: I'm working on several things now - in production with Arte Público Press are two books - One children's book, JOSEFINA’S HABICHUELAS, about a little girl who gives up eating sweets for Lent and then learns to make her favorite dessert Dominican habichuelas con dulce, and one as of yet untitled middle grade memoir about my life ages 9-13. I'm working on edits for both and both will be out in 2021.
The main project that I'm actually toiling away at daily is my choreopoem play and poetry collection CITY WITHOUT ALTAR or EL DESALOJO, I've sent the poetry manuscript out to publishers and contests...so who knows when it will be published?! But as I work on edits for the play version, I hope to have several staged readings of it in the next year or so.
NIGHT-BLOOMING JASMIN(N)E is a stirring collection of personal essays and poetry. Mendez shares her story, writing about encounters with the medical establishment, experiences as an Afro-Latina, and longing for the life she expected but that eludes her.
WE WANT MORE
Learn more about Jasminne Mendez here:
Twitter: @Jasminne Mendez
Instagram: @Jasminne Mendez