Massachusetts Poet in the Spotlight: Jasmine Colon-Thomas

Massachusetts Poet in the Spotlight is a monthly installment from Mass Poetry. Each month we will be shining the spotlight on a poet affiliated with, and nominated by, one of our poetry partners. If you are a partner with a poet to nominate, email laurin@masspoetry.org.

Highlighted by The Care Center Poetry Project

Jasmine Colon-ThomasJasmine Colon-Thomas 22, has a son named Harlem. During her time studying at The Care Center she was active in the school’s poetry program, serving as an editor for Nautilus II: The Care Center’s Journal of Poetry and Art by Young Mothers. Her poems were published in a community poetry anthology, and her poem “Expense” won First Prize in the Holyoke Community College-Care Center Poetry Contest in 2013. While at The Care Center, Jasmine participated in the school’s photography program, and was a member of the school’s crew team. She plans to continue her studies, become a Certified Nurse’s Assistant, and keep writing poetry.

Poetic Profession

“What inspires me? Knowing I can wake up and my mind is blank, and knowing that something can be created. Sitting on my bed and watching the four white walls and thinking of all the words I can come up with and all the poems I can write. My son and all the crazy things he does. You have the tools you need to be a poet in your hands—your hands can just write the poems themselves. Poetry, it’s extraordinary! It relaxes me. It tells me who I am and who I can be.” – Jasmine Colon-Thomas 

What I Do Remember

What I do remember is dark clouds and no stars, highways long, thin and straight.
What I do remember: many cars beeping and rushing, zooming down the highway to get home to their families, my mom yelling at me, telling me: “No boyfriend!”  I started to cry.
What I do remember: my mom punching me in my face, bruising my eye. Kicked me out of the car, almost falling over the railing near the highway.  My face eats the grass and dirt.
What I don’t remember is if I got home or if my mom cursed at me in the car.
What I don’t remember at all is breaking up with my boyfriend that night, or if he called me.
What I don’t remember is whether my god-sister told my mom I had one, or if my mom already knew.
What I don’t remember at all is if my dad was home, or my brothers or sister, or if it was a weekday or weekend.

The Care Center

The Care CenterEstablished in 1986, The Care Center provides wide range of free, high-quality educational, artistic, cultural and support programming for low income, predominantly Puerto Rican young mothers living in Holyoke, Massachusetts. These young women have all dropped out of school, most receive public assistance and all grapple with the challenges of being a young parent. We are here to provide opportunities for young mothers to gain control of their lives and acquire the education, resources, and skills for life-long growth and wellness.

Cultural and arts programming is integral to our overall mission and our poetry program is a cornerstone to our approach. We have found that exposure to the arts and humanities helps young parents understand other perspectives, gain a greater awareness of others’ needs and aspirations, and develop a sense of their own place within a broader human context.