Friday, January 10, 2020

Author Profile // Jennifer Harris: "She of the Woods"


A Profile of Author Jennifer Harris

She wrote and self-published her first children’s book “What About Me?” during the summer of 2019. Born in Birmingham, Alabama in the summer of 1992, the 27-year-old writer and poet Jennifer Harris began penning stories as an imaginative child, completing her first tale for a class project at the age of nine.

Along with her compassionate spirit, writing is her gift. Within her first year of composing, her teacher at Kingston Elementary School entered Jennifer into the annual Young Author’s Conference for emerging writers. Not only did Jennifer win the contest, but she was also awarded a position at the Alabama School of Fine Arts.

Restrictions of poverty and limited access to additional resources to support her opportunity made it difficult for Jennifer—who lived with her parents—to attend the arts institution. Nonetheless, she continued her journey, attended a public high school, and excelled in English and the social sciences. During high school, she also developed a love of sports and applied science and was able to transition smoothly into Troy University with an excellent academic record.

Despite her natural passion for writing and the arts, Jennifer set her post-secondary sights on health studies and science. At Troy, she studied pre-med and hoped to implement her passion for sports into a career as a doctor. Admittedly, her early college years were often pensive, as she contemplated a few directions to take her medical career. The medical field was a definite passion, and sports were also an identifiable interest, so Jennifer focused her academics in pursuit of a bachelor’s degree in Sports Management.

“I always find myself coming back around to the medical field in some aspect,” said Jennifer, who currently works in a healthcare facility as a medical assistant. Realizing that the pursuit of a sports industry vocation was possibly a short-lived phase, she still is drawn to health care as a profession. As for sports: a few yoga classes and recreational activities with her children is where she is comfortably engaged post-university, with her Bachelor of Arts in Sports Management and extensive knowledge in hand.

The change in vocation didn’t alter the enjoyment of Jennifer’s professional activities. Settled comfortably into the medical field and her position at the urgent care center, she recognized that she would have really been comfortable in either setting and credits her ability to “vibe with almost anyone” for allowing her to settle in and operate authentically at her workplace, and outside of the facility.

“I’m goofy,” she also noted. In addition to possessing a playful side, Jennifer also owns a few other personality traits that easily connect her with peers and colleagues. “I’m also laid back at times, spiritual, optimistic, and a pep talker. I am all of those things.”

Fun and free-spirited, Jennifer comfortably adopts the little sister role amongst her peers and is drawn to nurturing associates as a result. She confesses that while she’s often the one that wants to have a good time—and who doesn’t mind occasionally embracing immaturity—she is also aware that when it comes to dispensing advice, her friends will promptly look in her direction.

“I always view things from three perspectives,” Jennifer admitted, which is why her friends tend to lean on her support and guidance. “I also come with tons of emotional and spiritual support, which is intangible.”

Whether being nurtured by her friends, or providing advice to her friends, Jennifer naturally pours this wisdom and empathy into her writing and hopes that her words can be a source of empowerment and enlightenment for her readers. Particularly for women. Specifically, through her latest book “She of the Woods.”

“I hope that women take their sense of self love, and their own divine power from my book while reading it,” she admitted. “Through all of the darkness that may have taken place in their lives, that may have caused them to lose sight of who they are as a woman, I hope they see the beauty behind the madness.”

Inspiring women's strength is a key component of the inspiration behind her words, and her commitment to being a writer. Jennifer noted that having the ability to peel back layers of uncertainty, and unmasking authenticity were goals she had for her readers.

“You are your own strength, and there is so much magic within you,” she declared, a heartfelt message to women. Jennifer deems that in their purest form, all women are “beautiful, magical, and powerful beings.”

While she empathizes particularly with the journey of  women, Jennifer believes her books and her art are for everyone: those who are touched by her work, and those who feel uplifted as a result of her messaging.

“Anyone that moves my spirit is inspirational,” she admits. When looking for musical inspiration in particular, Jennifer turns to the melodies and lyrical passages of Jhene Aiko, Sza, Sabrina Claudio, Erykah Badu, and Londrelle. “Thich Nhat Hahn and Don Miguel Ruiz are my inspiration as well.”

The cadences and pace of music, combined with her passion and talents for wordsmithing, made the transition to poetry a natural one, completing her ability to compose fiction. It wasn’t long before Jennifer was a featured guest on the Words Beat Poetry podcast with Adam Messner, highlighting the publication of her new poetry book: “She of the Woods.”

"Writing is my calling. I’ve tried many things to find my niche, but I always came back to what truly expresses my creativity...and that is writing,” said Jennifer. “Whether it be short stories, spoken word, poems, or novels, I refer to myself as a storyteller because I don’t fit into one genre.”

The spoken word, the poetry, and the fiction writing are all based on Jennifer’s love for self-discovery and spiritual clarity. “All of my words result in searching inward to find answers and allowing the spirit to rise above the ego. It’s all about helping someone reach their authenticity and release the answers to every question they’ve ever had to ask.”

To seek her own answers, she also draws on nature, enjoys hiking, and potentially even one day camping out in the woods to truly connect with the elements. Jennifer anticipates continuing her creative journey and intends to write more books, more short stories, and eventually even try her hand at plays, scripts, and movie screenplays: “I just see myself with many different roles as a writer under my belt.”

Since her beginnings in Alabama, Jennifer has resided in other southern states. She moved from Georgia to Florida, back to Alabama, and then settled in Georgia where she currently resides. Classifying herself as a “wanderer,” she doesn’t like to dwell in the same location for too long and changes her surroundings and environment as often as possible.

“I have the heart of an adventurer—a nomad,” said Jennifer who will always have love for her Alabama roots. “My environment forced me to be fearless and want to become an explorer. I always wanted more and knew that there was more out there for me.”

In addition to her two books, Jennifer has also recorded a spoken word piece entitled “Creations” that is available through iTunes. As long as she is able to travel and experience new surroundings and relationships, Jennifer will be committed to documenting her journey through poetry, musings, and lyrics. She will continue to write, continue to inspire those around her, and continue to leave her legacy as someone who follows her own intuition, and encourages others to also seek their own personal paths to clarity and joy.

Written by Stacey Marie Robinson for Kya Publishing's Urban Toronto Tales blog.

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