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IRL Author Reading: Islands Apart: Becoming Dominican American-September 17@ 7 PM CST
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IRL Author Reading: Islands Apart: Becoming Dominican American-September 17@ 7 PM CST

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Join us as we celebrate the release of Islands Apart: Becoming Dominican American with author, Jasminne Mendez. 


When: September 17 @7 PM CST 

Where: Kindred Stories Reading Garden 

How: Check out with a free ticket or support our store and the author by purchasing a book with your ticket. 

About the Book 

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.

Mendez shares typical childhood experiences such as having an imaginary friend, boys and puberty, but she also exposes the anti-black racism within her own family and the conflict created by her family's conservative traditions. She was not allowed to do things other girls could, like date boys, shave her legs or wear heels. "I wanted us to find some common ground," she writes about her parents, "but it seemed like we were from two different worlds, and our islands kept drifting farther and farther apart."

Despite her father's old-style approach to raising girls, he valued education and insisted his daughters do well in school and maintain their native language. He took his children to hear Maya Angelou speak, and hearing the poet read was a defining moment for the black Dominican girl who struggled to fit in. "I decided that if Maya Angelou could be the author of her own story and rewrite her destiny to become a phenomenal woman, then somehow, so could I." Teens-and adults too-will appreciate reading about Mendez's experiences coming of age in the United States as both black and Latina.

About the Author

Jasminne Mendez is a Dominican-American poet, playwright, translator and award winning author of several books for children and adults. She is the author of two hybrid memoirs, Island of Dreams (Floricanto Press) and Night-Blooming Jasmin(n)e: Personal Essays and Poetry (Arte Público Press). Her second YA memoir, Islands Apart: Becoming Dominican American (Arte Público Press) is forthcoming in May 2022 and her debut poetry collection, City Without Altar, was a finalist for the Noemi Press Book Award for Poetry and will be released in August 2022. Her debut picture book Josefina’s Habichuelas (Arte Público Press), was released last year. Jasmine is the translator of Amanda Gorman’s picture book La canción del cambio: Himno para niños, the Spanish edition of Change Sings: A Children’s Anthem.

Mendez has had poetry and essays published by or forthcoming in numerous journals and anthologies including The Kenyon Review, New England Review, the YA Latinx Anthology Wild Tongues Can’t be Tamed edited by Saraciea Fennell (Flatiron/Macmillan), and in The BreakBeat Poets Vol. 4: LatiNext (Haymarket Books). She has translated and written poetry and a libretto for the Houston Grand Opera and the dramatized version of her play in verse City Without Altar will receive its world premiere at Milagro theatre in Portland, Oregon in spring 2022. She is an MFA graduate of the creative writing program at the Rainier Writing Workshop at Pacific Lutheran University, a University of Houston alumni, and a Canto Mundo Fellow. Based in Houston, she is the co-founder and program director of the Latinx literary arts organization Tintero Projects and co-host of Inkwell, a poetry and writing podcast series. Visit Jasminne online or visit her on Instagram/Twitter @jasminnemendez