Jasemine “Jazzy J” Reed believes that writing saved her life, and now she wants to help others use writing to save their lives as well. In 2013, Reed founded Reedmywords, a business dedicated to writing and helping others with grant writing, resume development, tutoring and more. Reed worked in social services right after graduating from EKU with a degree in psychology, and grew to become a spoken word artist, published poet and playwright. She has now expanded on her Reedmywords concept to open Creative Writing and Things, a community space in the Shawnee Learning Center on Lindell Avenue. LEO spoke with Reed about her journey as a writer and what she wants to accomplish with Reedmywords and Creative Writing and Things.
LEO: So Creative Writing and Things is just one facet of what you do, and it’s, that’s your baby that you’re trying to develop and build up. Tell me more about that.
Jasemine Reed: I wanted to use my passion, skill for writing to help the social and emotional learning of young people, for me, mainly because it started with me, and how writing allowed me, as a young teenager, to be able to express the strong emotions and feelings that I would have. And so I had to learn how to navigate those emotions and how to express my emotions about the things that I was going through as a young person. It literally saved my life. So I, being a person who writing has positively affected, wanted to share that with other people.
The opportunity was presented to me to bring my programs to West Louisville on Lindell Avenue, and I jumped. I opened up Creative Writing and Things on August the 15th, and it’s been the one of the best decisions I ever made.
Are you currently interacting with or working with people from just the neighborhood surrounding you? Are you getting people from, I know Louisville is a very segregated city, and I know most white people tend to behave like there’s really nothing west of Ninth Street. It’s ridiculous. But, you know, talk to me about the kind of people who are accessing your services.
Sure, well, so far since we’ve opened, we’ve had, I mean, majority of our demographics that have come in here, signed up [for] classes are predominantly Black female women with children, that has been my biggest demographic. I mean, the most, the characteristics that I’ve seen often are, these are middle-aged women to elder women up in the 60s and 70s, grandmas that are taking care of their grandkids, or helping parents take care of their grandkids, and it’s like ‘Ooh, my grandson and my granddaughter, they can use this.’ So my demographics have been predominantly Black. I assume that that’s what majority of my clientele will be although they are not my only demographics that I do serve. I offer my services to any and everybody. But as of now, there seems to be the demographic that I’ve been serving the most of, for sure.
What kind of goals would you like to achieve? Or what do you want the program to do over the next several years?
Well, my ultimate goal is to start a nonprofit for gifted and talented Black kids. I want Reedmywords to get that started. That’s what I see in the next few years, I see me coming out of this space, I’m going to be here, as long as I’m supposed to be here, but I see me, I see me opening up the old, I think it’s the old Actors Theatre building. I want to start a nonprofit for gifted and talented Black kids who want to get into theater, who want to get into performance. It doesn’t have to necessarily be spoken word if you want to be a songwriter. Because we have a lot of gifted kids — they just are not, they don’t have opportunities to be groomed. And I want to make it free, you know, and I know that through nonprofit, there’s a lot of sectors and avenues for programming for young people. And I just want to do what was done for me.
What can the community do to help you to further these goals, further Creative Writing and Things and Reedmywords and all that? How could the community best help you?
I got a very radical answer for you, but I’m gonna say it. What Louisville can do for me is to treat me as a person who lives in West Louisville, who’s raising children in West Louisville, working in West Louisville, to treat me and what we do as though we know what the needs are of this community. Because there’s a lot of things happening in West Louisville right now, there’s a lot of development being made, there’s a lot of stuff popping up. And a lot of this stuff is being ran by people who do not live here. And a lot of this stuff that they think is what’s best for us is coming from people who don’t live here. And, I live here and I work here, and I look like the people that live here and work here, too. I want them to treat me like they’re treating these people who are coming in here and creating their own work, what they feel like is best for us. That’s what I want from, that’s what Louisville can do for me — they can treat me just like they treat those people who they’re letting come in here and do work, as though we know what we’re talking about… that we know what we need…, treat me like I know what we need. And that’s that’s all I could ask for.