NAME: JP Howard
LOCATION: New York, NY
ORIGIN: Sugar Hill, Harlem, New York City
ART: Poet, Essayist, Curator
MAIN GENRE: Poet
TRAINING: MFA in Creative Writing from The City University of New York
ARTS AFFILIATIONS: Curator & Founder of Women Writers in Bloom Poetry Salon, recipients of fellowships from Cave Canem, Lambda Literary Foundation, Grants from Brooklyn Arts Council and alum of VONA (Voices of Our Nation Arts Foundation)
BIO: JP Howard is a poet, educator, literary activist, curator and community builder. Her debut poetry collection, SAY/MIRROR (The Operating System), was a Lambda Literary finalist. She is also the author of bury your love poems here (Belladonna*), Praise This Complicated Herstory: Legacy, Healing & Revolutionary Poems (Harlequin Creature) and co-editor of Sinister Wisdom Journal Black Lesbians — We Are the Revolution! JP was a featured author in Lambda Literary’s LGBTQ Writers in Schools Program and was a Split this Rock Freedom Plow Award for Poetry & Activism finalist. JP is featured in the Lesbian Poet Trading Card Series from Headmistress Press and has received fellowships and grants from Cave Canem, VONA, Lambda Literary Foundation, Astraea and Brooklyn Arts Council (BAC). She curates Women Writers in Bloom Poetry Salon – a monthly New York-based literary salon series. Her poetry and essays have appeared in The Slowdown podcast, The Academy of American Poets Poem-a-Day Series, Apogee Journal, The Feminist Wire, Split this Rock, Muzzle Magazine, and The Best American Poetry Blog. Her poetry is widely anthologized. JP is a general Poetry Editor for Women’s Studies Quarterly and Editor-At-Large of Mom Egg Review VOX online. She has appeared twice on The Artists Forum TV (Ep. 77 & Ep. 83) and was a featured artist at The Artists Forum Salon 2018.
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: My debut poetry collection, SAY/MIRROR, was nominated as a Lambda Literary Finalist and I was also the recipient of Lambda Literary Foundation’s Judith A. Markowitz Emerging Writer Award, both in the same year! I was selected as a featured author in Lambda Literary’s LGBTQ Writers in Schools Program from 2018 to 2020 and my book SAY/MIRROR was listed as an adult crossover book. As a featured author, my book was shared with various public high school classes across New York City and I was invited to speak to those classes and discuss my book. An excerpt of my poem praise poets and their pens was selected by the Academy of American Poets and printed on a mug that is currently available to generous donors to poets.org.
LATEST WORKS: Praise This Complicated Herstory: Legacy, Healing & Revolutionary Poems is a chapbook length work of mine that has just been released from the small press, Harlequin Creature. It is part of a hcx, a larger collaborative project and part of Harlequin Creature’s final issue, after 10 years of publishing phenomenal and unique work. I am honored to have my poems included in this unique final project of the press.
WORK SAMPLES: JP’s published poems can be found on her website.
Below is one of JP Howard’s praise poems. It was originally published as part of the Academy of American Poets Poem-A-Day series.
praise poets and their pens* (dedicated to my 30/30 crew)
praise daily poems in my inbox
how they make me laugh in one stanza,
then break my heart the next
praise how poets hold onto our first loves,
and scent of mama, now gone
praise how we nurture our child self,
gently wrap her around stanzas,
baby girl is resilient
praise our spunk and our sadness,
let our writing heal
at home, at work, in cafés, even in the ICU
praise how we hold our memories up to light,
gentle and cupped in palm of hands
praise our rough and sexy poems,
sometimes that’s all we need
fiyah in the sheets
praise bebop and jazz
how my foot taps when i
speak your poems out loud
praise power of music and mama
who played Nancy Wilson all night long,
crying behind a closed door.
praise how i wrote a new poem this week,
while my sick child laid on my lap,
because everyone needs to heal, especially mamas.
© 2017 by JP Howard*. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on September 13, 2017 by the Academy of American Poets.
Please describe your artistic themes
I often write about raising Black boys in this country, including both the joys and challenges that brings. I am a big fan of the Praise Poem, and enjoy writing poems that both praise and acknowledge the complicated parts of our lives. Many of my poems deal with the parts of my life that often intersect, including being black queer woman poet and mama to two amazing suns (sons). My work honors my poetic muse, the late dynamic black lesbian activist poet, Pat Parker, who once said “The day all the different parts of me can come along, we would have what I would call a revolution.”
Please describe your creative process
It’s a case of an idea finding its way into my consciousness, where it will stay lodged for a while, competing with other ideas. II am a night owl and much of my writing gets done when my family is asleep late at night. I need quiet to produce my best work and my schedule has adapted accordingly over time. I am also a huge fan of collaborating with others. Sometimes that means meeting with Elma’s Heart Circle, a small beloved group of dynamic women poet friends, who I have been writing with for many years. We exchange poetry and give feedback throughout the year. Elma’s Heart inspires me to keep writing. I feel they hold me accountable since I know they are expecting a new poem from me in their inbox during the periods we choose to exchange poetry (often we exchange new poems daily for one month at a time). I am also creatively inspired by my monthly Women Writers in Bloom Poetry Salons. Meeting with talented writers from across the world (now that we meet virtually during the pandemic) often kick-starts my own creative process.
What are your artistic goals? What do you need to achieve them?
My long-term goal is to become feature film and television director. It’s very hard at first, when you’re just getting started. Currently, my artistic/creative goals are to complete my next full length poetry manuscript and to complete my middle grade novel-in-verse and find a home for these works in progress in the near future. I need to remain focused on my creative goals and to find and make time in my schedule to achieve these goals.
What are your views on the industry?
The poetry community has really come together during the pandemic in unique and novel ways. While many poets and writers have been isolated, in order to stay safe, the growth of online events in the poetry community has been inspiring. I’m proud to have moved my own literary salon, Women Writers in Bloom Poetry Salon online, beginning in March 2020 and I’ve been deeply moved by the tremendous turnout of poets, writers and creative participants from around the world and from around the U.S. who join my free online events month after month, almost two years since temporarily moving online. In some ways, moving to a virtual format has provided the unique opportunity to collaborate with diverse writers from around the world. While living through these difficult times is often isolating, I continue to be uplifted and encouraged by our literary community and our ability to find new and creative ways to collaborate. I have also noticed the expansion of more opportunities for LGBTQ poets and poets of color in the poetry community and am hopeful that that will continue.
What advice would you give to emerging artists?
In a way, there has never been a better time to be a filmmaker. The available technology allows us to shoot cheaper and I would encourage emerging artists to reach out and find trusted mentors. Intergenerational mentors are so valuable; we can learn from artists who are both older and younger than us. I would recommend emerging artists seek out and find mentors who are diverse in every sense of the word. I would also encourage emerging artists to collaborate with other artists/creative beings and tell them not to be afraid to ask questions to artists with more experience. Find creative communities that support their goals and provide opportunities to grow and bloom as an artist. Community is everything!
THE ARTISTS FORUM TV: Ep. 77 & Ep. 83