UW-Madison junior Jasmine Mans was recently named one of Glamour Magazine’s Top Ten College Women of 2012 for her spoken word and poetry.
Mans, a member of UW’s First Wave program, has been writing and performing her own work since middle school. After a video of Mans’ performing a poem criticizing Nicki Minaj received nearly 475,000 views, she steadily gained fame through appearances on HBO’s “Brave New Voices,” Black Entertainment Television, billboard.com and Broadway.
Mans was the only poet in the group of girls recognized. The rest have talents ranging from dance to founding a non-profit to help children pay for clothes and school supplies on poverty stricken Native American reservations.
“I tried to realize why someone would find my work just as significant as [the other girls’] and I think that after meeting these girls, something that we all have in common is the fact that we found and loved, genuinely loved, our passions from a very young age,” Mans said.
Mans credits UW-Madison and the First Wave program with allowing her to focus on her art and cultivate her career.
“I certainly think that the University of Wisconsin gave me the opportunity to pursue things that I thought were only dreams through First Wave,” Mans added.
Mans said she is excited to see poetry, which has been historically overlooked, become “cool” for the first time.
“Kids and teenagers and young adults and mothers are jumping up and saying I’ve got a favorite rapper, or a favorite song or singer, but also I’ve got a favorite poet,” Mans said. “And that means something for a literary artist to be counted as someone’s favorite.”
While Mans’ performances consistently evoke cheers, she hopes her art can do more than entertain an audience.
“I would really love to inspire people and I want to make it like they can get through anything, they can be anything. And I want to remind people of their beauty and their strength,” Mans said. “I want a little black girl to stand up in the front of her classroom and read a poem by her favorite poet and I want that poet to be me.”