Author Archives: jessie

November 2022: “Bigger than Bravery” edited by Valerie Boyd, Launch Date – November 15

In September my dear friend Valerie Boyd was inducted into the Georgia Writer’s Hall of Fame at the University of Georgia where she founded the Graduate Low Residency Program for Narrative Non-Fiction. I had the honor of moderating a panel that evening on Bigger Than Bravery: Black Resilience and Reclamation in a time of Pandemic, an anthology of essays and poems by 31 amazing writers. It was Val’s last project as editor.

Bigger Than Bravery and the beautiful Valerie Boyd

From the Bigger Than Bravery Book Description:

Born of a desire to bring together the voices of those most harshly affected by the intersecting pandemics of Covid-19 and systemic racism, Bigger Than Bravery explores comfort and compromise, challenge and resilience, throughout the Great Pause that became the Great Call.

With contributions by Pearl Cleage, Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor, Honorée Fanonne Jeffers, Tayari Jones, Kiese Laymon, Imani Perry, Deesha Philyaw, Khadijah Queen, Jason Reynolds, Alice Walker, and more.

“Eloquent and riveting, Boyd’s collection delivers not only, as she promises in her introduction, a long exhalation, a silent prayer, a solace, and a comfort but also, in the words of Imani Perry, a celebration of Blackness as ‘an immense and defiant joy.’ This one’s not to be missed.”
Publishers Weekly, starred review, Big Indie Books of Fall 2022

“A map of ancestral knowledge, revelatory insight, and feelings laid bare . . . These pages share poems of hope, narratives of loss, anger, fear, loneliness, togetherness, death, and most potently, life, to paint a portrait . . . resonant to all.”
Library JournalEditors’ Pick

“Valerie Boyd’s Bigger Than Bravery isn’t just an anthology; it is a survival guide.”
—Courtney B. Vance, Tony- and Emmy-winning actor

SAVE 15% off the cover price plus receive FREE Shipping
Use Promo Code: HallofFame

Panelists: Shay Youngblood, Tayari Jones, Rosalind Bentley, Karen Good Marable and Latria Graham. 
Photo by Camie William

My essay Feasting on Bread and Bones about my creative channeling in the kitchen and gentrification in my Atlanta neighborhood is included, requested, and shaped by Val’s editorial hand.

A happy Sunday morning memory with my tribe:Veta, Val, Shay, Kelley, and Miriam


In case you missed this virtual launch event with Kelley Alexander and myself, enjoy this replay provided by Charis Books.


  • Watching: The New Wakanda film (soon), Sydney Poitier doc on Apple TV
  • Listening to music:  Beyonce, Bjork, Healing Music for Plants, Jon Batiste, Lizzo, and Kendrick Lamar
  • Listening to books: The Love Songs of W.E.B. Dubois by Honoree Fanonne Jeffers (for the 2nd time), Under the Skin by Linda Villarosa, Nancy Drew Mysteries
  • Reading: As Cooked on Tik Tok, Ossuaries by Dionne Brand, Travel and Food magazines, The Red-Haired Woman by Orhan Pamuk

October 2022: “Mama’s Home” Book Launch!


Shay Youngblood, 2022

Like my photo?

It was taken by Photographer Carolyn Miller who included my image in her exhibition: Our Journeys, Our Stories: In Our Own Words September 12 – October 30, 2022, at the Auburn Avenue Research Library in Atlanta.

The stunning photographs feature the images and stories of Black Women creators, innovators, community servants, healers, visionaries, advocates, and educators.

I’m excited to invite you to the Virtual Book Launch of my first children’s book published by Make Me A World Books (Chris Myers publisher) where I’ll be discussing the book with my friend, Kelley Alexander. Click here to join us.

Pre-Order Mama’s Home from CHARIS BOOKS & MORE 
Available October 18, 2022

From the book description:
A gorgeously illustrated picture book that is a powerful love letter to chosen families and the village that raises us. A young girl basks in the love of her community–which includes not only her mother but the many different women who make up her world.

 “A joyful, heartfelt celebration of family—born and chosen—and community, of Black womanhood and expressions of love.”—Kirkus Reviews (Read the complete starred review.)

“Congratulations!  MAMA’S HOME has been selected for
Amazon’s Best of the Month Club in the Ages 3 – 5 category!”


From the book description:
In A Family Prayer, acclaimed novelist Shay Youngblood brings to life the prayer of a little brown girl who finds joy in asking God to keep her family safe.

Young readers will celebrate every aunty, cousin, and grandmother in their life.

But more than just her biological relatives, each family member is a maternal or paternal archetype, someone in her community who represents the title of mother, father, aunty, and the like.

Click here to Pre-Order your copy today from CHARIS BOOKS & MORE


The North Georgia mountains were a balm to my soul.

I spent 5 days working on a new draft of my stage play Boss Ladies and Tender-hearted Girls: A Manual for Rest and Resistance, made drawings and sketches for a mural, and sketched out ideas for how to use new technology, particularly Virtual Reality in my new work and in my life for armchair traveling.


  • Most Anticipated Film: Woman King
  • Book Listening: Between Two Kingdoms, Sulieka Joad
  • Netflix: Great British Bake Off and Never Have I Ever…
  • Watching: Criterion Channel Collection Films – thanks to a one-year gift subscription

July 2022: Square Blues at the Horizon Theater

Square Blues follows the story of Square, his mother Odessa, and Odessa’s granddaughter, Karma. 

Square, (played by Jay Jones), is collecting names on petitions demanding financial reparations and a public apology for slavery.

His mother Odessa (played by Olivia Dawson), is married to a Jewish store owner since the 1940s.

Odessa’s granddaughter Karma (played by Chantal Maurice) creates art on public walls using spray paint, nude models, and found objects in her art to bring attention to the issues she feels passion for. 

Karma is in love with partner-in-crime Lola (Patty De La Garza), a Latinx poet who is coaxing her to move away to California.

Only together can they find the courage to stand up for their beliefs as they redefine what makes a family and what holds it together.  
July 22 – August 21, 2022
Press Opening July 29

Wednesday – Friday at 8 PM
Saturday at 3PM & 8PM
Sunday at 5 PM

Tickets are $30 on weekdays, and $35 on weekends in advance (prices are subject to change and may rise as performances fill up)

Meet the accomplished cast starring in the world premiere of Square Blues about three generations of a southern Black family who share a passion for activism, art, and following your heart.

Marliss Ameia* – Miss Tuesday
Olivia Dawson* – Odessa Blue
Patrica (Patty) de la Garza – Lola
Chantal Maurice – Karma Blue
Jay Jones – Square Blue

Enjoy this Interview with me and Horizon Theater’s Digital Content & Education Manager, Jack Padgett.  We discuss the play – the story, characters, the genesis of my idea, and more!


May 2022: Walking in Beauty

I woke up smiling. It was a beautiful sunny spring day and I wanted to walk in beauty. Atlanta High Museum or Atlanta Botanical Gardens?

 After a friend brought me a delicious slice of Visiting Cake, she dropped me off at the Gardens.

What a glorious Eden! Walking among the trees, flowers, and plants (venus fly traps) the aroma of honeysuckle and other sweet florals stopped me in my tracks and so did the glass creations of Chihuly.

On grand display are large-scale metal sculptures of Santa Fe-based artists Kevin and Jennifer Box Origami in the Garden, a traveling exhibition.

It was a sweet surprise to meet Kevin and Jennifer while I was admiring one of Jennifer’s pieces.

The show opens to the public on May 7th.

I hope you’ll make the time to walk in beauty soon.


Finally got the chance to see the stunning mural created by Najee Dorsey for the Mildred Terry Public Library, my childhood sanctuary in Columbus, Georgia.

I took photos with my family in front of the mural depicting the history of the library and the community I grew up in.

Najee has been working on an epic project in the Atlanta area, a gallery space, Black Art in America opening to the public soon.

Yes, that’s me in the mural, the girl in yellow typing a draft of the Big Mama Stories at Yaddo Artists Retreat.


July  8 – 14th Horizon Theatre presents SQUARE BLUES directed by Thomas Jones lll

August 15  STAY TUNED for the announcement of a public reading of my play  BOSS LADIES & TENDER-HEARTED GIRLS: A Manual for Renewal and Resistance at the HORIZON THEATRE 

Pre-Order Mama’s Home at CHARIS BOOKS & MORE

Black Women Speak! Marguerite Hannah and Horizon Theatre Present a new Project to amplify the voices of Southern Black women, find it in The Dramatists ATLANTA May/June 2022 Issue – Read: BLACK WOMEN SPEAK PROJECT by Candrice Jones & Shay Youngblood 


  • Bridgerton Seasons One and Two 
  • The Gilded Age
  • Nashville, binge-watched all six seasons and wept at the end of Season Five.
  • Better Life
  • Black-ish, binge from Season One
  • This Is Us – when I need to cry. Each episode is good for at least three boo hoo’s
  • Stacks of Illustrated Children’s Books
  • Vintage Cookbooks
  • Cooking Shows
  • Emails from a friend who keeps bees!
  • Cards, letters, and postcards from around the world, I enjoy sending and receiving snail mail


I’m offering 30-minute zoom or phone conversations with creatives. Discuss your writing and creative projects, resources, grants, and how to sustain your practice.

Learn more and register with the links above.