Writer, published poet, editor, speaker, arts facilitator and project manager, Jacinta White’s creativity wears many titles. From Charlotte, North Carolina, to Detroit and Atlanta, she finally landed in Forsyth County’s creative community in 2005 and has added much to it. Her first poem was published in “Young Detroit” in 1996, but a beauty from ashes tale unfolded as her journey as a writer was sparked by the loss of her father. She found that poetry was a lifeline in helping her process and express the grief and pain from her deep loss.
Armed with a degree in speech communications and a master’s degree in non-profit management, she then went on to study Poetry Therapy with Dr. Sherry Reiter of the Creative Writing Center in New York, and has worked alongside renowned poetry therapist and author, John Fox.
Wanting to share her healing journey with others, Jacinta founded The Word Project (TWP) in 2002 in Atlanta as a way to provide urban youth a safe space to share their complex and sometimes painful stories through poetry. Today, TWP has expanded its reach, and features those of all ages and walks of life and is committed to “authentically assisting individuals, businesses and communities in their healing journey toward wholeness, using words and art as catalysts for discovery, expression and growth.” Learn more about The Word Project at poetryheals.com.
As the director of TWP, Jacinta leads workshops and trainings and is often invited to be the keynote speaker at events. But her creativity has not stopped there. “Several years ago I had the idea to start an online quarterly magazine — Snapdragon: A Journal of Art & Healing — to provide an additional platform for those who use art toward their personal and community healing. We publish poetry, creative nonfiction, and photography from those across the globe. This is our fourth year.” If you’d like to read Snapdragon and/or submit your work, visit snapdragonjournal.com.
Her poetry is crafted of words of healing, paths to precious memories, and rich, delicious stories. While her work is influenced by everything she reads, her favorite poets include Lucille Clifton, Anne Sexton, and Rumi. One of her own short poems:
“Feast” by Jacinta V. White
They both would come pain in rounded arms
like holding a basket full of freshly picked
string beans. Lay them on the kitchen table
for the other to experience — finger the bumps
and bruises, the spots tender and tough,
and you know, shake the dirt off. One by one,
they would share their stories, taking turns
holding the other’s pain. Sometimes silent
but still holding the other’s pain. Until one would nod,
“Throw it away.”
Her entry to Winston-Salem was through Leadership Winston-Salem, where she worked as the Program Director from 2012 – 2015. “I had the opportunity to meet and get to know many here. It’s what inspired me to move from Kernersville to the city of Winston-Salem. I enjoy Winston-Salem because it provides both solitude and activity. As I writer, I need both. Once you get your foot in the door, you find that the arts community is very supportive and encouraging.”
She repeats the same advice that was given to her and so many other writers: Write every day. “Though I don’t always have the time to write daily, I do think it’s important as a writer to surround yourself with the craft of writing. That could include reading an essay on craft or editing, watching a lecture, going to a reading, or my favorite – listening to poetry-related podcasts. Poetry is who I am so I must nourish that part of me to be whole. Nourish the part of you that needs to be, even if no one understands.”
Jacinta is currently working on a manuscript of poetry based on years of research of rural Southern black churches and cemeteries inspired by her father’s and other family members’ work as church pastors. To see more of her work, visit jacintawhite.com/poet.