Local poet addresses mental health with self-published book of poems | Literary Arts | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Local poet addresses mental health with self-published book of poems

Just keep swimming

click to enlarge Corrine Jasmin performing at an open mic night. - HEATHER KRESGE
Heather Kresge
Corrine Jasmin performing at an open mic night.

“Don’t be afraid to ask for help,” says local poet Corrine Jasmin of her experience struggling with mental health issues. “I had walls up my whole life and was very alone for many years. [But] once you [knock] the walls down, it’s so much easier.”

With Jasmin’s first book of poems, Tread, she aims to encourage those battling with mental illness to be vocal about issues that plague them. 

For Jasmin, those walls didn’t start to come down until her exploration into spoken word. Afraid of being vulnerable, she felt the best way to tackle this fear was to put herself in front of an audience. “It’s all in my writing,” she says. “I keep it very honest and transparent.”

Her first open mic took place at Station in Bloomfield, during an event called For The People. It was well-received, so she began performing at open mics around the city. Soon, people asked Jasmin where her poetry could be found, and the idea to create a collection of her work was born. 

Debuting September 26, Tread is a self-published collection of poetry that touches on mental health, childhood trauma, heartbreak, falling in love, and self-loathing. It’s a deconstruction of self, following Jasmin’s journey as she blossomed into adulthood.

Heavily focused on the last three years of her life, Jasmin described this growth period as “messy, was ridden with pain, depression, and anxiety.” She was lost and confused about herself, and her place in the world. Fittingly, one of the poems in her collection is entitled, “The mess it’s taken me to become a woman.”

During that time, Jasmin didn’t have anything to help with her mental health and questions about her sexuality. But, she hopes the book will help women in their late teens and 20s who are dealing with similar issues. “I wish that I would have had that.”

Now, with her walls down, Jasmin is a vocal advocate for not only mental health but discusses being a person of color in America. In a video on her website, Jasmin poses nude, with a voiceover whispering, “Do not lighten my skin.” She is exposed, literally and figuratively.

“What I’m trying to encourage, is to be honest, we all have that yin and yang, and faults and mistakes, but it’s about ownership and accountability, and showing up for you before anyone else; just taking care of yourself. Let the walls down. [And,] in the most non-cheesy way, you’re not alone in your suffering.”

Follow music writer Jordan Snowden on Twitter @snowden_jordan

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