5 Questions with Queen Jasmeen

by Patrick Ohslund

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Jasmine Schlafke is a poet, activist and mother from Santa Cruz, CA dedicated to expression and art. She earned her spot on a National poetry team for the last three years and is teaching slam in alternative high school settings, weekly. In her free time Jasmine volunteers for a mental health network and remains committed to mental health activism and liberation.

1.

In the mini documentary made about you called heART, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e5rgrLzVPcg you say the tag line for your art is, “my humanity is my ministry”, can you explain this further?

My humanity is my ministry is my way of saying that authenticity is my ministry. I seek not to erase my history but to unsilence it in the name of growth. From this standpoint, I understand mistakes are inevitable.

2.

What is the most liberating experience you have had while writing/performing poetry?

It is always liberating to connect with an audience member and hear their mental health journey. It was so scary coming out of the closet and saying I was bipolar so the reward of knowing it wasn’t in vain is awesome.

3.

A line in your poetry: ‘Sometimes pain is the only indicator that you are still ticking’ What is your opinion on the relationship between pain and art?

Depending on the artist, pain informs art. I personally have to write about my pain; it’s the only medicine that works. Hopefully art is the alchemy of pain, and in participating we are freed.

4.

A line in your poetry: ‘Does death still make you cry, and if it doesn’t, have you convinced yourself that you are living all the way’ What are your top 10 ways to know you are living all the way?

Laughter. Orgasms. Crying regularly. Writing. Dancing. Flirting. Eating. Smoking. Listening. Venting. Play

5.

You write about being bipolar, what is your take on the thought: sanity is defined as normalcy, and artists have to be a little bit crazy in order to create things that stand out from the norm?

I believe we all have to be a little crazy to survive this world. Whatever that means. To create we must take ourselves less seriously; and, in our culture, that is crazy.

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