Jasmine Mans is a Black American poet and artist from Newark, New Jersey. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin Madison, with a B.A. in African American Studies. Her debut collection of poetry, Chalk Outlines of Snow Angels, was published in 2012. Her most recent collection, Black Girl, Call Home (which she also narrates the audiobook for), was published in 2021.
“This collection. Have you ever closed a book and suddenly felt that all that you are, all that you’ve seen has somehow been made tangible through another’s voice? Have you ever felt called in to let go, to be heard, and to be seen? That is what Mans has done here. I will forever hold onto the beautiful ways in which Jasmine pulls apart and gives life to the tiny variables which contribute to the formulation of one’s blackness, queerness, and womanhood. ”Deidre, WORD Bookstores
We asked Jasmine to share some of her favorites for National Poetry Month, and she came through! Read on for Jasmine’s recommendations for poetry collections and novels in verse, as well as why she picked each one.
“I’ve actually followed Mahogany L. Browne most of my career. Her honesty is both refreshing and relative. She is masterful in the way she shapes language. The way she honors verse is to be appreciated and celebrated. Browne holds a voice of power, a voice that is fluid and stirring. We are all students of her voice.”
“Amanda has shifted the visibility of poetry. The Hill We Climb is the poem our children will memorize and recite with both gravity and hope. We’ll remember when the Black girl generously saved us, and how we didn’t even see it coming. She–and this piece–is not just a symbol of light for the poetry community, but for America. Somebody sent her to save us, and she took the charge. Her voice shall lead us.”
“Finna is brilliant and Nate Marshall is such a servant of poetic form. I am in awe of his use of language and verse. His commitment to both voice and texture is present when engaging with Finna. His work has imprinted on how I create. His commitment to the Black narrative is something that makes me feel seen and full.”
“I am in love with Ocean. The way he honors his mother and dives into her complexities is both brilliantly and gracefully done. We are all, always, searching to understand ourselves–I found so many pieces of myself in this text. Narrating and storytelling around the people we love most is scary, and Ocean went all the way. I was happy to have found this book before writing my own because I didn’t know how to talk about my mother–my moments–with all of the grace they were deserving of. This was soft and forever.”
“This beautifully written poetry book is sharp in its storytelling, yet graceful in its imprint. Smith’s use of language is wondrous. What he wants us to remember is important. New Orleans holds a place in my heart, and Smith surely deepened that love. His voice captures the complexities of Black identity and a memory of history that is necessary and evergreen.”
“Happy to know that I am not alone in all I feel, in the wealth of emotions that is pouring from me. Happy to know that I am not alone in all of my outlandish desires. Catherine holds a memory of love and touch, and speaks with unwavering honesty. Her voice reminds women they are real and undone. Listening to her felt like existing outside of myself. Her ability to talk about sex, self, loss, and love in all their colors keeps us near.”
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