Say/Mirror by JP Howard
by JP Howard
JP Howard’s debut collection is a dialogue of history and memory, reflecting on and integrating vintage photographs of her mother, Ruth King (a fairly well known African American runway model in Harlem during the 1940’s and 1950’s) with snapshots from the poet’s own childhood. This manuscript began to emerge when Howard gained access to a large collection of her mother’s modeling photos, as well as some local Harlem magazine and newspaper clippings, and was thereby offered a window into her heyday, begging comparison to and recollection of a complex motherhood away from the spotlight. Here is a project that seeks to use poetry as both memoir and biography, alongside the evocative nostalgia of vintage image—a map from which Howard has pieced together the bright but uneven path of growing up in the shadow of a “model” mother. The atlas of Say/Mirror charts the islands of the poet and her mother’s overlapping lives—unearthing the shared experiences of a single parent and only child, coming to terms with each other in the 1970’s and 80’s: a socio-historical-emotional retelling of the life of a diva through a daughter’s eyes, with both parent and child learning to navigate the rocky terrain therein.
Juliet P. Howard aka JP Howard is a Cave Canem graduate fellow. She is the author of SAY/MIRROR, a debut poetry collection published by The Operating System (2015) and a chaplet, bury your love poems here (Belladonna Collaborative*, 2015). She curates Women Writers in Bloom Poetry Salon (WWBPS), a forum offering women writers a venue to come together in a positive and supportive space in NY. The Salon celebrates a diverse array of women poets and includes a large LGBTQ POC membership. JP is an alum of the VONA/Voices Writers Workshop, as well as a Lambda Literary Foundation Emerging LGBT Voices Fellow. She was a finalist in The Feminist Wire's 2014 1st Poetry Contest. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Feminist Wire, pluck! The Journal of Affrilachian Arts & Culture, Poets, Split this Rock, Nepantla: A Journal for Queer Poets of Color, Muzzle Magazine, Adrienne: A Poetry Journal of Queer Women, The Best American Poetry Blog, MiPOesias, The Mom Egg, Talking Writing and Connotation Press, among others. JP holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the City College of New York and a BA from Barnard College.