POWER OF OUR WOMBS is an ode, a tribute, and honor work. It’s my mirror work to go back and fetch- infant me. It’s my ‘personal responsibility’ towards Sankofa. I hope these poems elucidate or better yet sing both the gospel and the blues of my entrance and when I’m gone, my legacy. Knowing the power of our wombs, the homes I’ve had, has finally made me proud of my origin story. These stories are turning the loss and grief, the abandonment and isolation, the distrust, the shame, from dirty pain to clean pain. I've come to accept these experiences as the other face, the agreement of love and for love. This book is for youth of rage, the parent, the social worker and even the lawmaker. It’s for the long awaited conversation at the dining table, it’s for families reuniting.
“When reading Power of Our Wombs by Jessica Hairston, I see the book from multiple perspectives. At first glance I see a quiet intense 14 year old young woman with very intense feeling, wise beyond her years with a unique gift for writing and I see her through the eyes of a caring teacher. My second set of eyes sees an emerging intellectual with a deeper more passionate desire to purge demons who have been haunting a loving, caring creative writer with a growing set of experiences and gifts and a very compelling story to tell. My final set of eyes sees Jessica and the story of her wombs from the perspective of an educator who teaches Advanced Placement African American Studies and recognizes the historical time period and the tale of drama, passion, hurt and survival driven home by Jessica's story. Power of Our Wombs fits well in a literature classroom as well as part of history curriculum and is intense, passionate and real. It tells a story of life, death and the rebirth of a soul but above all, it is a beautiful story by a beautiful author.” —Anthony Green
“Once in a lifetime a book and a writer comes along and changes literature as we know it. Power of Our Wombs is that book and Jessica Hairston is that writer. Having read this challenging book, I am, myself, changed as a writer and more importantly, a human being. What are we if not human and what is poetry if not a fight to the death for the sake of humanity? Read this book and know that you will be forever changed.” —Truong Tran
“Power of Our Wombs’ pulled at me, but not away from myself, or ever towards Jessica’s story, it served as a space for me to dive inward with her words as a guide. It rode the waves of grief, joy, sadness, and self discovery both expansively and intimately, and felt like a conversation between myself and a close friend.” —Maud Alcorn
“This is a work of raw & undeniable force. a kali-encoded reclamation of personal narrative, familial histories & mythologies. Jessica Hairston, in her journey of harnessing power & potency through a myriad of timelines, writes us into a symphony of no boundaries. nesting in the chasm of death & birth, purgatory & heaven, intimacy & trauma, we are submerged in an amniotic sac of truth; that holds for only so long before the membranes of survival & memory are destined to break. Power of Our Wombs is a delivery of reckoning. measuring Black womanhood against the expectancy of state violence & institutional righteousness. this collection labors against these injustices. it cracks silences. it sweats. it pushes. it screams. it cries. it kinetically positions itself & ushers forth a new paradigm of how Black women seek balance for our collective consciousness & for our bodies.” —Mimi Tempestt, author of the monumental misremembering
Poetry. African & African American Studies.
Jessica Emmaline Ke'Mani Hairston, pen name Je'Mani, is an Oakland-born and raised poet. She is a student of English at Northeastern University at Mills in Oakland. Jessica grew up dancing and playing jazz drums. She spent most of her youth trying to learn how to rage out through hip hop dance but struggled to trust the cipher and her ability to move and flow because surrendering is easier said than done. Now, she'll be the first one to tell that once we accept the art of letting go, art becomes therapy. Jessica lives with mental health battles that inform how she meets the world but doesn't let those conditions stop her from moving with grace and following her purpose. Her life experiences have ripened her interest in Black psychology, racial trauma, and mental health in addition to writing in the area of social work. While attending Mills College (before its merger with Northeastern), she and two other Black students pioneered a Racial Trauma initiative known as the Black Wellness Package. The Black Wellness Package supports Black students to succeed in higher education by receiving support for the continuous racial trauma. The BlackWellness Package is concrete items aimed at racial equity in the classroom. Je'Mani is a former foster child, and adult adoptee, who reunited with birth family in 2018 at the age of 19, effectively changing her life forever. Her passion for creative writing is where she can synthesize all of herself at the behest of her own wishes, satisfaction, relief, and artistic expression.