Jessica Winnie is an emerging poetic voice, born and raised in Minneapolis. In her first published book, she takes readers on a journey through the life of an African American woman raised by a radical activist family and community.
Rolling out sat down with Winnie to talk about her new book and what readers can expect.
What inspired you to write this book?
The inspiration for Everything I Am stemmed from the idea of creating an overall healing experience for the reader, one that would encourage, engage and influence. Writing poetry has always been a way for me to deal with all aspects of mental health. This book encompasses all of those balances.
What is the story behind the title?
Everything I Am is a journey of finding joy; being at ease with frustrations, pushing through struggles and boldly being true to thine own self. The journey of forgiveness, deliverance and perseverance in sharing my story often and standing in my totality is what gave birth to the title.
Name three things the reader should walk away with from the book.
My poetry speaks to the masses; this literary selection will give a clear understanding of everything you are. The poetry forces readers to deal with their internal challenges. You will be immersed in Everything I Am as there is a space to write, reflect and create on your own.
Who or what motivates you and why?
My six children and students motivate me. Being around young people, observing their passions and influencing them to turn those gifts into realities keeps me alive!
How does the book address life challenges?
Sections in Everything I Am cover concepts such as betrayal, discovering, intimacy and sufficiency which all of humanity have faced at one time or another. Life’s challenges are addressed by dealing with them in a raw, confidential setting — your own mind.
What was the hardest part of completing this project?
I had an error with the book layout. Either I had to fix everything or write one last poem. I struggled for weeks. Then one evening, I received a text from my sister, “We lost her.” I sat down and Twilight poured out from my pen.
What’s next for you?
I will continue to enjoy the rebirth of my poetic voice. Also, I am looking forward to being featured in Poets & Pints [on] Sept. 18 at Sisyphus Brewing in Minneapolis. Lastly, the irony of returning to De La Salle for my first MN Black Authors Expo in October.