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Friday Feature: Jacquese Armstrong

Updated: Jan 9

Jacquese Armstrong (she/her) is a writer/speaker/poet who educates, motivates, and inspires from her lived mental health experiences and interprets the pain etched on her mothers’ wombs provided for her reading as a balm for healing to aid in battling the illusion. A 2022 Black Fire—This Time Anthology Summer Fellow with Aquarius Press, author of birthing yourself naturally: motivational reflections on a mental health journey (2022), and blues legacy (Broadside Lotus Press, 2019), Jacquese was the recipient of the 2019 Naomi Long Madgett Poetry Award and a 2015 Ambassador Award from the State of New Jersey Governor’s Council on Mental Health Stigma for promoting wellness and recovery and reducing stigma through the arts. In addition, she creates mental wellness/self-care workshops from an artistic lens and has received training from the Arts & Healing Initiative as a SEA (Social Emotional Arts) Facilitator. Follow her on her website.

stuck in jackson ms tryin to understand (2023)

(with the help of basquiat)

i hear

jean-michel “jim crow”

and all he said was ms with

a blue-black river mississippi

invadin a black man’s head makin

his eyes fire/ yeah makin

his eyes fire

i feel this force-field here

people yell over it

they laugh

loud they

stare you down in righteous indignation

for breathin their air

i feel this force-field here

said it was a stronghold ‘cause i

thought to myself

satan’s been busy here like for

centuries buildin that chasm

buildin that chasm

buildin that chasm that

orchestrates the indignities forced into

a predicated mind

like a bullet

interrupts regulary scheduled


but i just feel

this force-field here

it settles

somewhere about the neck


Torch Literary Arts is a 501(c)3 nonprofit established to publish and promote creative writing by Black women. We publish contemporary writing by experienced and emerging writers alike. Programs include the Wildfire Reading Series, writing workshops, and retreats. Donate to help Torch amplify Black women writers.


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