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Wildfire Reading Series Featuring Jasminne Mendez
Wildfire Reading Series Featuring Jasminne Mendez

Fri, Oct 14



Wildfire Reading Series Featuring Jasminne Mendez

Torch Literary Arts welcomes Jasminne Mendez, author of City Without Altar and Islands Apart.

Time & Location

Oct 14, 2022, 6:00 PM CDT

Bookwoman, 5501 N Lamar Blvd A-105, Austin, TX 78751, USA

About the event

Torch Literary Arts is proud to present an evening with Jasminne Mendez, author of City Without Altar and Islands Apart: Becoming Dominican American.

City Without Altar is a poetry collection and play in verse that explores what it means to live, love, heal and experience violence as a Black person in the world. The titular play in verse that sits at the center of the book seeks to amplify the voices and experiences of victims, survivors and living ancestors of the 1937 Haitian Massacre that occurred along the northwest Dominican/Haitian border during the Trujillo Era. Between the scenes of the play are “interludes” that explore a different kind of “cutting” and what it means to feel othered because of illness, disability and blackness. Ultimately, City Without Altar is a meditation on being/feeling “blacked out” by the archive, on the world stage and in one’s daily life.

Islands Apart: Becoming Dominican American

Jasminne Mendez didn’t speak English when she started kindergarten, and her young, white teacher thought the girl was deaf because in Louisiana, you were either black or white. She had no idea that a black girl could be a Spanish speaker. In this memoir for teens about growing up Afro Latina in the Deep South, Jasminne writes about feeling torn between her Dominican, Spanish-speaking culture at home and the American, English-speaking one around her. She desperately wanted to fit in, to be seen as American, and she realized early on that language mattered. Learning to read and write English well was the road to acceptance.

Praise for City Without Altar

”Jasminne Mendez refocuses, re-electrifies and finally defines [documentary poetics] with this strikingly inventive exploration of how trauma scissors through borders, numbs families, feeds on the purple specter of violence and relentlessly forages for root in the body. City Without Altar is a dazzling melange of script, prose, stanza and image. Its brash and bellowing heart is a dramatization of the callous 1937 Haitian massacre, with heart-rending resurrection of both sufferers and survivors, but the poet is relentless with her magic as she unearths deep-buried parallels to her own “unblackening” and the way grief takes hold of her hands.”

Patricia Smith, author of Incendiary Art and Blood Dazzler

Praise for Islands Apart: Becoming Dominican American

“At times poignant and at others heartbreaking, this volume is sure to empower those who share the pressures of forced assimilation…the narrative choices feel intentional—every word in the 10 personal essays seems deliberately chosen, varying in tone and gravity but always striving for the same underlying tone of intimacy.”

—Kirkus Reviews

Jasminne Mendez is a Dominican-American poet, educator, translator, playwright and award-winning author of several books for children and adults. She has had poetry and essays published in numerous journals and anthologies including The New England ReviewThe Acentos Review, Kenyon ReviewGulf CoastThe Rumpus, and others. She is the author of two multi-genre collections Island of Dreams (Floricanto Press, 2013) which won an International Latino Book Award, and Night-Blooming Jasmin(n)e: Personal Essays and Poetry (Arte Publico Press, 2018). Her debut poetry collection City Without Altar was a finalist for the Noemi Press poetry prize and her second YA memoir Islands Apart: Becoming Dominican American (Arte Public Press) are out now and her debut middle-grade novel in verse Aniana del Mar Jumps In (Dial) is forthcoming in 2023. She has translated the work of NYT Best Selling authors Amanda Gorman and Calribel Ortega and the Houston Grand Opera. She has received fellowships from Canto Mundo, Macondo the Kenyon Review Writers Workshop, and the National New Playwrights Network among others. She is an MFA graduate of the creative writing program at the Rainier Writing Workshop at Pacific Lutheran University and a University of Houston alumni. She lives and works in Houston, TX.

Torch Literary Arts is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization established to publish and promote creative writing by Black women. We publish contemporary writing by experienced and emerging writers alike. TORCH has featured work by Colleen J. McElroy, Tayari Jones, Sharon Bridgforth, Crystal Wilkinson, Patricia Smith, Natasha Trethewey, Elizabeth Alexander, and others. Programs include the Wildfire Reading Series, writing workshops, and retreats. Learn more at

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