Like so many of us once did, Jasmine T. Duff thought she’d have her life totally “together” by age 25. And though she had the degree, the job, and the husband, she found herself plagued with anxiety.
“I had done everything Millennial Southern Belle was supposed to do but it still felt like I was missing the mark,” Jasmine says. “Everything wasn’t clicking like they said it would if you got good grades, read your bible, and went to networking events.”
So she started a blog.
“I decided to take matters into my own hands and pursue my God-given talent,” she says. “I blog about faith, family, feelings, and finances; all the areas of life I strive to do better in.”
“I named my blog Season26 because it represents the moment that I let go of that dream and decided to focus on being better,” says Jasmine, now 27. “Better has no end point while we tend to see ‘together’ as a destination, which sets itself up as a feat we can never truly achieve.”
Lately, Jasmine has been working diligently to build her blog and a community around it by hosting in-person and virtual events and maintaining an active Facebook group. This is why she is the January See Jane Write Member of the Month.
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.
“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.
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 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.