Kicking It Up | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Kicking It Up

I have a confession; lately I haven't been living in the moment. Here at the JFP we have a million ideas and staff members who work insanely hard because of their commitment to doing good work. I think all of us struggle with the fact that there are only so many hours in the day that keep us from implementing all those great ideas. To-do lists can run several pages, and at the end of the day it can be hard to leave the office. I feel fortunate, though, because my work doesn't feel like work—every issue we put out is a collaboration involving creativity, wit, perseverance, excitement and lots of soul.

So on Friday when I attended the Writer's Spotlight at the Eudora Welty Commons, I found myself checking off my mental to-do list and thinking about this issue instead of absorbing the work of fellow writers. Then local poet Bob Hudson started reading poetry from a book he recently self-published. I don't know Mr. Hudson, but his poems drew me in, and I found it difficult to think about anything else.

Local freelance writer Janine Jankovitz who also works at the Institute For Southern Jewish Life, organized the Writer's Spotlight in an effort to create an outlet for writers to share their work. A broad spectrum of writers from beginners to publishers stood up and read their hearts out. Each poem or short story made me laugh or reflect on my own experiences. The event displayed a vibrant pocket of talent that lives within our city and left me feeling humble.

On Saturday I took advantage of free admission at the Mississippi Museum of Art. Upon viewing the Mississippi Invitational, I had to keep reminding myself that I was in Jackson and not New York City. The short videos of one of the featured artists, Fondren resident Christopher Miner, are a glimpse into someone else's private moments and inspire deep reflection. Other Jackson artists such as Mathew Puckett, Brent Fogt, David Lambert and Amanda Sparks make up the Mississippi Invitational, and they each bring a unique vision and technique to their work.

Later that evening, local artists came together for the "Mobiles" exhibit at One to One Studios in the Millsaps Arts District. One to One Studios, a non-profit formed to inspire a community of artists, is a microcosm of creativity. The studio creates a place for aspiring artists—many short on funds—to have an outlet for their work. The exhibit brought together photography, dancing and live music based on the theme of mobiles, inspired by Alexander Calder who is famous for blending multiple components together in his larger-than-life installations.

The studio was filled with people of all ages. Front Porch Dance Company members Krista Bower, Valerie Nicholson, Erin Rockwell and Emily Wright held the room's full attention for a full hour as Jamie Weems played the mandolin, and a group of musicians exuded orchestra-like sounds.

My favorite part of the performance was at the end when dancers pulled audience members on the stage and everyone let go of their inhibitions and joyously danced with each other. It was a small way to incorporate everyone into the performance—even those of us who aren't exactly the greatest dancers.

After the show, a group of artists and friends migrated to Hal and Mal's to see AJC (also known as Adam Collier) and the Envelope Pushers. Known for his soul and R&B-based music, Adam brings together musicians from all backgrounds, ages and races. His energy is contagious. Sitting on a stool with a dishrag draped over his shoulders, Adam belted out his variations of popular songs֖always adding a message of perseverance and determination. Guitarist Chris Wheeler, who is better known for playing with southern-rock bands, accompanied AJC. The performance transcended race and the unspoken barriers we sometimes put up between ourselves and others.

These experiences brought me back into the moment. I was able to reflect and relate to these local artists and truly enjoy the act of expression. Efforts to make Jackson to a home for artists—young or old, rich or poor, and black or white—-to thrive should not go unnoticed.

The excitement is contagious and inspiring. Each of the events I attended contained so much soul and heart, with no signs of pretension or "art snobs" in sight. People like Krista Bower, Jamie Weems, Adam Collier and Janine Jankovitz are doing an amazing job in bringing together the art community. So many others are doing the same thing, and their efforts are at the core of Jackson's Renaissance.

I would like to challenge other aspiring writers, painters, photographers, dancers and musicians to put aside any self-doubts and get involved. There are so many opportunities within the city to hone your craft.

Even here at the JFP we are kicking our efforts up a notch and working to create a new era for freelance writers. We realize that not everyone starts off as a perfect writer, and we want to create an outlet for those who want to learn and grow, as well as provide opportunities that can reach beyond our city limits and state boundaries. Currently, we are planning workshops and social events for freelancers and updating some of our guidelines and procedures.

We want to help provide opportunities and see an emerging culture of artists and writers thrive. There are so many stories just waiting to be written about the "city with soul." This is a great time to pursue your passion if you're willing to seize the opportunities and work hard.

If you're interested in freelancing for the JFP, please write me at {encode="" title=""} and I'll send you our new writers' guidelines. Send specific story pitches to {encode="" title=""}

Previous Comments


Thank you Lacey. It means a lot to me that Jackson has been so supportive of the Writer's Spotlight.


Thought provoking. Well done!


Like independent media outlets around the world, the Jackson Free Press works hard to produce important content on a limited budget. We'd love your help! Become a JFP VIP member today and/or donate to our journalism fund. Thanks for considering a JFP VIP membership or one-time support.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

comments powered by Disqus