Houston Public Media radio host Eric Ladau interviewed Méndez for its website’s “Arte Público Press Authors” feature, and along with the transcript, their conversation is available to listeners on the station’s interactive site through on-demand audio streaming here.
Click here to see all Arte Público authors featured on Houston Public Media.
About the Author:
JASMINNE MÉNDEZ is a poet, educator, performer, and award-winning author. She is a Macondo and Canto Mundo Fellow, as well as a Voices of Our Nations Arts (VONA) alumna. Her collection of essays and poetry, Night-Blooming Jasmin(n)e: Personal Essays and Poetry, was published by Arte Público Press on April 30, 2018. Her first multi-genre memoir, Island of Dreams, was awarded Best Young Adult Latino-focused Book by the International Latino Book Awards in 2015.
She received her B.A. in English Literature and her M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Houston. She is currently pursuing her MFA in creative writing from the Rainier Writer’s Workshop at Pacific Lutheran University. Méndez has had poetry and memoir published both nationally and internationally. Recently, her personal essay, “El Corte,” received honorable mention in the Barry Lopez Creative Non-Fiction Prize in CutThroat, A Journal of the Arts and was published in their Best of CutThroat March 2016 edition. She has shared the stage as a performance poet with world-renowned authors Taylor Mali, Sandra Cisneros, Dagoberto Gilb, and Amalia Ortiz.
About her new book, Night-Blooming Jasmin(n)e: Personal Essays and Poetry
For Jasminne Méndez, pericardial effusion and pericarditis are not just an abnormal accumulation of fluid and increased inflammation around the heart. It’s what happens “when you stifle the tears and pain of a miscarriage, infertility, and chronic illness for so long that your heart does the crying for you until it begins to drown because its tears have nowhere to go.”
Diagnosed with scleroderma at 22 and lupus just six years later, her life becomes a roller coaster of doctor visits, medical tests, and procedures. Staring at EKG results that look like hieroglyphics, she realizes that she doesn’t want to understand them: “The language of a life lived with chronic illness is not something I want to adapt to. I cannot let this hostile vocabulary hijack my story.”
The daughter of Dominican immigrants, Méndez fought for independence against her overly-protective parents, obtaining a full scholarship to college, a dream job after school and a master’s degree shortly thereafter. But the full-time job with medical insurance doesn’t satisfy her urge to write and perform, so she leaves it in search of creative fulfillment. In this stirring collection of personal essays and poetry, Méndez shares her story, writing about encounters with the medical establishment, experiences as an Afro Latina and longing for the life she expected but that eludes her.