Jasmine Combs is a West Philadelphia native. She currently attends Temple University where she studies English with a focus in Creative Writing. She is a member of Babel Poetry Collective, managing editor of Hyphen Literary and Arts Magazine, and participates in poetry slams across the city. Last year Jasmine represented Philadelphia at the National Poetry Slam with The Philly Pigeon team, was crown Grand Slam Champion of The Philly Pigeon in 2015 and will represent once again in the 2015 National Poetry Slam this summer. In 2014 she also published her first chapbook of poetry "Universal Themes."
Kareem: Can you tell us about yourself: Where you’re from, how long have you been writing, a few things important to you in your writing.
Jasmine: I am Philadelphia native, specifically from West Philly. I'm entering my senior year at Temple University where I study English with a focus in Creative Writing. I have been writing since I was about 5 years old and I've wanted to be a writer pretty much ever since I learned how to read. For my writing, two of the most important things is authenticity and relatable. My work always come from an authentic place or personal experience and it is very important to me that my reader or audience can see themselves somewhere in my personal story. For me, the purpose of poetry is to be able to connect with others.
Kareem: Who have you been reading, have they influenced your style recently? How so?
Jasmine: My favorite author is Jacqueline Woodson. I think what she writes is considered "teen fiction" or maybe even children's literature. I first picked up one of her books when I was in third grade and what really struck me about her writing was how easily I could relate to her characters and storyline. Woodson was also one of the first black woman authors that I was exposed to and her characters were black like me, from hoods like mine, and had realistic problems like mine, which was very important for a young black girl like myself to see. I've currently been reading her most recent work, Brown Girl Dreaming, which is a poetic memoir.
Kareem: Is this a piece that you have been working on or did you develop this piece for the Stung Contest?
Jasmine: "Night Child" was actually a piece I wrote for one of my creative writing poetry courses at Temple. I think the assignment was to utilize sound (so assonance, alliteration, etc.) and while I usually don't produce my best work from prompts, this piece just kind of flowed out. I submitted it for the Stung Contest because I think it is one of my better page poems (I primarily write spoken word poems).
Kareem: The poems feels like a cross between a dream and a nostalgic reflection. Can you tell me about the aesthetic of this poem? How did you want the images to develop in the readers head?
Jasmine: I think this piece does come from a place of nostalgia. It takes me back to summer nights in West Philly, playing with my friends from my grandma's block until the street lights came on and we had to come inside or at least stay in front of the house. I think that's a scene that anyone who grew up in an urban neighborhood can relate to. I also think that using personification for things like the trees and can and moon give it that dream-like feel.
Kareem: When you created this did you see it as a piece that could be coupled with the video project?
Jasmine: Having this poem turned into a video was the farthest thing from my mind when I wrote but it's definitely a very image based piece and when I found out I won the video contest I started imagining it in a really cool HBO Happily Ever After type of cartoon.
Kareem: Can you tell us a little bit about the characters in this poem: The Night Children, the Mamas and the Moon as a Mama? How would you describe the relationship between these three and the influence they have on each other.
Jasmine: I think it's really interesting and cool that the children in this poem are being referred to as The Night Children. It makes them feel particularly special. I just thought of them as regular children who are outside at night but calling them The Night Children gives them a hint of mystery and whimsy, and isn't that true of regular children as well? I think the Moon is a very interesting character, as well as the theme of womanhood in this poem. I compare the Moon to a mother because there is this intrinsic connection between women and the moon, her presence in the sky at night has this very maternal feel and I like to think of her as the matriarch of womankind.