When Kwoya Fagin Maples told me she wanted to become a member of See Jane Write, I was elated — and nervous.
Kwoya is my colleague at the Alabama School of Fine Arts where she teaches in the Creative Writing department, so I’m aware of how talented she is. She has an MFA from the University of Alabama and is a Cave Canem Fellow. In 2010 she published her chapbook Something of Yours through Finishing Line Press and her work has appeared in several journals and anthologies including The African-American Review, PLUCK, Cave Canem Anthology XIII, The Birmingham Poetry Review, Right Hand Pointing and Sow’s Ear Poetry Review. As an instructor at ASFA, Kwoya has developed a three-dimensional poetry exhibit which features poetry and visual art including original paintings, photography, installations and film. With that kind of resume, I wondered, what could I offer her?!
But Kwoya was seeking community, courses, and coaching that would help her better market her work and herself as a writer and that would help her reach more of her life and literary goals. She’s done exactly that, which is why she is the See Jane Write member of the month for May.
On Friday, May 12, Kwoya will reach her goal of organizing and hosting this year’s three-dimensional poetry exhibit. The 2017 Three Dimensional Poetry Exhibit, which will be displayed at Space One Eleven in downtown Birmingham, will feature students of ASFA’s Creative Writing Department and will center on the theme of Chimera: Reimagined Memory. (Learn more here.)
An opening reception will be held at Space One Eleven, 2409 2nd Avenue North in Birmingham, at 6 p.m. on Friday, May 12. Before heading to Friday’s opening, get to know the woman behind this wonderful project.
It’s one of the best emails to wake up to as a writing coach:
So, the big news is…
MY BOOK IS WRITTEN!!!
Done. Done done done.
Melissa Scott sent me this email recently to let me know she had completed the first draft of her essay collection, a process I’ve had the honor and privilege to guide her through as her writing coach.
She ended her email with, “Thank you so much for all your help,” but I feel I should be thanking her because Melissa has been a source of inspiration for me for years.
As a body positive yoga instructor she inspires me to love my body as is and to appreciate my body for what it can do instead of always focusing on how it looks. And the honesty and authenticity of her blog posts inspired me to be more transparent in my own.
Melissa Scott is the See Jane Write Member of the Month for April not simply because she has completed the first draft of her book, but because she is the epitome of what See Jane Write is all about.
Salaam Green says poetry saved her life.
“After a stressful divorce and an emotionally abusive marriage where I found myself at my highest weight of 337 pounds, alone, without a home, and devastated by grief, I needed something to help me recover,” she says.
That something was writing.
“I found a writing class — Women Writing for a Change,” Salaam says. “This is where I found healing through the power of words and community. Writing to release brought me freedom to declare I am a Poet and that writing is a tool of recovery. I have been with the same class and group of phenomenal writers for over six years.”
Earlier this year Salaam became a member of See Jane Write, too, and she has started a movement of her own through the Literary Healing Arts Foundation, a business idea she has brought to fruition in part through the guidance of Create Birmingham’s CO.STARTERS program.
Salaam also won the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama’s poetry contest and was named Conference Poet Laureate for the group’s annual innovation conference.
We are proud to announce that Salaam Green is the See Jane Write member of the month.
This will be quite a busy month for poet, author, editor and motivational speaker Joi Miner. She has a new book she’s promoting, a business that she’s striving to take to the next level and a spoken word event that she’s planning to host in Birmingham.
Joi’s book A Good Girl with Bad Habits 2 is now available on Amazon.
Joi is the co-founder of Poetic Advisory, LLC, through which she hosts creative events and workshops and offers editing services to writers.
On June 25 at the Desert Island Supply Co., Joi will host the Red and Black Affair, a spoken word event designed to bring together the city’s creatives and introduce them to Poetic Advisory. (You can get details and RSVP here.)
Looking at all Joi is up to these days it’s hard to believe that a few months ago she had been hospitalized and told by a doctor that she wouldn’t survive the night.
Because of her hard work, tenacity, and perseverance, Joi Miner is the See Jane Write Member of the Month for June.
Jeniese Hosey of the fashion blog The Jenesaisquoi is having a moment — her moment, her time to shine.
The past several months have been quite eventful for her. Last fall she was featured on the cover of Redbook magazine as one of the winners of the publication’s Real Women Style Awards. She’s been featured on Essence.com and in People’s StyleWatch. She landed a brand campaign with Catherines, which included a fun, fashion-filled trip to New Orleans. And she was even recently featured on a billboard for Macy’s in Times Square in New York City!
Jeniese is indeed a perfect example of what being a boss lady blogger is all about and that’s why she’s the See Jane Write member of the month for May.
There was a time when Lauree Ashcom felt she had to hide her love for poetry.
“I always wrote and read poetry secretly,” she says. “When I was in school, teachers seemed to teach that there were only certain types of poetry, that it mainly rhymed, that the only great poets were dead.”
And so Lauree would perhaps sometimes send a poem to a family member or friend, but mostly she kept what she describes as her “real heart words” in journals and on note cards tucked under her bed or in hidden in her closet.
“About ten years ago I began to feel more free and more rebellious,” she says. “Maybe it had something to do with suddenly having an empty nest. I created an alter ego under a pen name and began writing and posting in poetry groups on Facebook and other sites. Not all of these were sites that a proper southern woman should be visiting, but even that helped me break the bonds of the rules that made me live in fear.”
Lauree started entering and becoming a finalist in writing contests. This helped her to eventually land a book deal. “I would have been happy to just have a chapbook printed, but I got a contract for a full length book,” she says.
I’m excited to announce that Lauree Ashcom is the Member of the Month for April, which is also National Poetry Month.
I recently had a chat with Lauree about her writing process and journey.