When I moved back home to Detroit at the end of 2006, my life had been literally turned upside down. I was nursing my then-10-month old son and all my personal belongings were spread out between storages in Atlanta, my old home and the life I’d left behind, my friend’s garage, and my mom’s house on the west side. My life was scattered, unsure. I was 119 lbs., breastfeeding and definitely a little broken.
I had to do what all women, and certainly what all mothers who happened to be artists must undoubtedly do — I had to reinvent myself. I had to scrap those pieces of myself, those attempts to destroy my career, my spirit, and all the things I had worked so hard to build up, and literally put my life back together.
I had been gone for 12 years, become famous in my own right, and traveled the world over. I did not know if I could possibly make a living back at home in Detroit. I came home on a flight paid for by The Charles H. Wright Museum for a speaking gig, baby in tow. The Wright didn’t know as I flew, two large moving trucks were following behind me a few days later.
I was not the 22-year old girl who packed up her purple 1994 Ford pickup truck and moved to Brooklyn to chase down poems and poets in New York City. I was twice married, and in time, divorced. I was a mother to an earth son, Omari, from my first marriage, and a stepmom to three more beautiful children, and a brand new mom to my now 13-year old son King.
I would never be the same. I could have never imagined during this coarse moment in my life I would somehow become stronger, wiser, more well known internationally, and yes, a much better poet. The city of Detroit had not forgotten the poet proudly born and raised here. One year after moving home, while I was still a shadow of who I was becoming, I would land my first Metro Times cover
Why does this matter and why am I even writing this? I’ve received loads of national press, and did well in NYC and Atlanta. Still, coming home was such a challenging time for me, and having a space to tell my story — and for that survival story to be important enough for the cover of the Metro Times —
had an incredible personal impact on my life at the time. Now, it’s a moving archive of where I was, and where I was absolutely destined to be.
Norene Cashen came over to my artsy Woodbridge apartment for the interview. She was a tall brunette and looked cool enough to be in a punk rock band. We would stay in touch after the interview and I felt a connection to this writer I gushed all my personal business out to in just a few short hours.
On the cover of this Metro Times
I am standing over a manhole holding a large megaphone. I’m rocking red tights with white polka dots, a man beater (what I call it), and my hair is twisted and wild and free. I am sooooo skinny. The stress of my life had definitely taken a toll on my health. Still, no one would know that with this beautiful photography layout and positive homecoming story. That first big cover at home from a respected arts, politics, music, and news zine was impactful in getting my confidence to continue my new chapter of full-time artist from — and now working in — Detroit.
I desperately wanted to become stronger than that girl with the megaphone.
At 42, in 2013, there I was on the cover of the Metro Times again
. This time I was right hand on hip, short black and gold sparkly dress with long train, a stylist on deck, new locs twisted up into an updo, and a look into the camera I couldn't have dared conjured six years before. I was confident, focused, and working on my first real recording project, Black Tea — The Legend of Jessi James
. Some of the photos from this shoot were taken at Submerge. I found a friendship and kindred spirit with Underground Resistance founder and techno legend Mike Banks. I recorded my first album on the third floor of that building with pianist Jon Dixon and our talented Detroit musician family.
This cover was me rediscovering my voice. We shot inside the gorgeous Detroit Public Library. No more shadows, just loads of rock 'n' roll and my imagination on fire. Detroit was home and I was thriving.
My third cover
, in March 2018, was never supposed to feature just me! I really wanted the cover to be the group shot of the Black WOMEN Rock! musicians. I was beyond thrilled that we would finally make the St. Patrick's week cover. For years I wanted us to somehow beat the green leprechaun! It was by far the most comprehensive, well-written article ever done about Black WOMEN Rock! in 15 years. This was a milestone article for me and for our movement.
The last featured article
celebrates the launch of my fifth book, We Want Our Bodies Back
on Harper Collins. The interview is done by Imani Mixon as we were sitting on my velvet couch in the living room of my historic Boston-Edison home that I purchased a year ago. The mantra for the article for me is: I deserve this. The pandemic had not fully hit yet. We weren’t on full lockdown, and in my head I was preparing for a huge book launch party and an international tour to follow.
Then life interrupted all of us — this paper included. As it did to many local businesses, the coronavirus hurt the Metro Times
. That's why they started a new Press Club
for members to donate as a way to show thanks.
So, I wanted to write this as a simple “Thank You.” Thank you for seeing me when other local publications literally ignored my existence. Thank you for remembering that artists and people grow, so doing new features on their current projects is so necessary. Thank you for showcasing Black WOMEN Rock!, the week of St. Patrick's Day!
Most importantly, thank you for that incredible 2008 cover story — a beautiful reminder of how much I’ve grown as a woman and an artist. Keep on pushing, Metro Times
. Detroit needs us both.
jessica Care moore is a poet, performer, and writer based in Detroit.
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