Photos by Taylor Baldwin.
It is Disorganized, in which our favorite writers get to the bottom of their own craft. From favorite drinks for writing to whether or not you need to carry a notebook, we find out all the ways they beat writer’s block and do it. This week, we speak with Jasmine Mans on the occasion of her collection of poetry “Black girl, call home” which was released earlier this year. The work tackles topics such as black hair care, family bereavement and the tangled relationships between mothers and daughters. Below take a look at Mans’ writing process.
JULIANA UKIOMOGBE: Describe your ideal writing atmosphere. What gets you in the mood?
JASMINE MANS: An organized space, without distractions. White noise, ocean sounds or a John Coltrane playlist. These options allow me to navigate a sonic journey without being distracted by literal words. While writing, I hear no words other than those I conjure.
UKIOMOGBE: Do you eat or drink while you write? If so, what do you like to have?
MANS: I am a chronic and terribly insane coffee drinker. I can handle a filter coffee or an oat milk latte in every writing session, one or maybe even two. When I think of writing, I think of things that make me feel safe. The warmth of the coffee reminds me of home and, in return, comforts me. Really, I had no idea how important comfort was in my writing process until now.
UKIOMOGBE? Do you sometimes smoke while you are writing?
MANS: Smoking weed can have many different reactions during the creative process. Sometimes cannabis makes you nervous, anxious, and fuzzy. There are other times when cannabis relaxes this mind, allowing for peace. I will also say, even as the CEO of a company called Buy Weed From Women, that the best mind is a sober mind.. Art doesn’t depend on cannabis, but I wish everyone a healthy canna-art relationship.
UKIOMOGBE: Do you keep a notebook and / or diary?
MANS: I keep too much, that’s the problem. Now I have a Google document on my computer titled “Next” and I will try to write everything in this document, or transfer all my writing to this document. To be a “good” writer, routine and organization are essential. Having one place to refer to your work allows you to track your growth.
UKIOMOGBE: Do you prefer handwriting or typing?
MANS: I prefer to type because I can literally think faster. I type faster than I write. However, laptops offer no distractions, no open tabs, no pop-up windows, no apps. With a notebook, it’s just you and the page. The computer understands you, the page, and the global web lustfully waiting to distract you. It’s not sure !
UKIOMOGBE: What’s your favorite quote?
MANS: “You are your best asset. »Toni Morrison, Beloved.
UKIOMOGBE: Who do you always come back to when writing?
MANS: I will always turn to Toni Morrison and Amiri Baraka.
UKIOMOGBE: What’s your favorite book to reread?
MANS: I love re-reading Dr Suess Oh the places you’ll go! when I’m drunk, honestly.
UKIOMOGBE: Do you read while you are writing?
MANS: Yeah, I read stuff to educate myself and to find smart ways to spread my language on the page. This is what I’m most proud of, my constant reading of things, all random and necessary things.
UKIOMOGBE: Which writers inform your current work the most?
MANS: Quinta Brunson, Ocean Vuong, Toni Morrison, Clint Smith, James Baldwin, Alice Walker, Gwendolyn Brooks, Roxane Gay and many more.
UKIOMOGBE: How many drafts of a piece do you usually write?
MANS: Excellent question! I’ve had poems that went through 30-40 drafts. I’ve had poems that only needed two drafts before they were finished. Drafts all depend on the depth, length and emotion of the poem.
UKIOMOGBE: What would be the title of your memoirs?
MANS: Maybe she was a genius.
UKIOMOGBE: Who is your favorite screenwriter?
MANS: Shonda Rhimes. She said she treated her audience like they were smart, I respect that. We want to treat our audience like they’re stupid, like we writers don’t exist in the same realities they live in. I feel smarter and smarter watching the work of Shonda Rhimes. I would like to offer the same to my audience.
UKIOMOGBE: Do you see writing as a spiritual practice?
MANS: Sometimes it does. I think we should make whatever we love a spiritual and ritualistic practice. When something becomes ritual, it is honored, it is cemented into the routine of life. The things that are related to his mind are to be protected, honored and shared.
UKIOMOGBE: Which writers would you choose to dine with, alive or dead?
MANS: Toni Morrison, James Baldwin, Amiri Baraka, Eckhart Tolle and Tupac Shakur. I would love to talk to Tracy Chapman about “Fast Car”, I would love to talk to Toni Morrison about Sula.
UKIOMOGBE: What advice do you have for those who want to become better writers?
MANS: Don’t stop. You are what you do. Keep writing and sharing, and discover new ways to fall in love with the craft. In 2017, I spent a year painting my poetry on a 6 foot Home Depot canvas. I am not a painter, but I rediscovered my love for poetry through painting and playing. Play with your art, don’t make your art your servant.
UKIOMOGBE: What are the unconventional techniques that you defend?
MANS: Physical exercise prepares the mind for writing. I am a better writer when I run. I believe other art forms can enhance yours. When I search for depth, I look at painters, storytellers, musicians and ballerinas in their techniques, I see how their techniques can be applied to my form.
UKIOMOGBE: Can good writing save the world?
MANS: That’s why God told a group of men to write the Bible.