When you say the word “grief,” it conjures what we have survived. Though the person, event, or circumstance connected to grief varies, we carry its memory. Alongside grief, there is joy…we hope. Between joy and grief, there is life, purpose, loss, and all we could not change. There is blood, people we love, people who love us, and the ones we point to and say, “Had it not been for you, I would not have made it.” Arguably, there is no power like that borne of resilience and an insistence to be great, to let our brilliance shine like a gold bullet caught between the teeth. Each of us has a journey. Jason Mendez, a writer and storyteller who completed a doctoral degree in Education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, uses his grief as fuel to bring a nation of people up with him, from his family to his students to his friends and colleagues and people who experience his work. To listen to him is to hear a man with multi-faceted vision. He possesses a quiet, sharp intensity and power that stems from keen intellectual insight rooted in confidence, compassion, social justice, and honoring where he came from: Manida Street, Hunts Point, South Bronx. His journey as a scholar-artist-activist led him to North Carolina and now Pittsburgh where he is an instructor in the School of Social Work and the School of Education at the University of Pittsburgh. But no matter where he lives or goes, it is clear. He bleeds the art, culture, history, and stories of the Boogiedown Bronx.
Read more at 1839 Artist Profile: Jason Mendez
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Author: Tameka Cage Conley, PhD is a literary artist who writes poetry, fiction, plays, and essays. She has received writing fellowships from the Cave Canem Foundation, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, the Vermont Studio Center, the Squaw Valley Community of Writers Workshop, and the August Wilson Center. Her work has appeared in a number of literary journals and magazines. She is at work on a first novel and poetry collection.