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Thu, 10.28.1971

Jessica Moore, Writer born

Jessica Care Moore

*Jessica Moore was born on this date in 1971. She is a Black poet, artist, publisher, and entertainer.

From Detroit, MI., Jessica Care Moore was exposed to poetry as a student at Cody High School. She attended Michigan State University and Wayne State University, writing for campus newspapers at both schools.  In her early twenties, Moore was a news writer at Detroit's Fox television network outlet and began looking for places where she could read her poetry in the evening. "I didn't start reading out loud to strangers until '94," she told the Cincinnati City Beat. "My dad passed, and I read a poem, and people were very impressed by that."

At an appearance at Detroit’s Pourme Café, she met members of the durable spoken-word group, The Last Poets, who had also influenced various hip-hop artists. She also impressed the café's owners, who ran a nearby hair salon and invited Moore to perform at some of the city's hairstyle expositions. Moore's success with this difficult audience bolstered her confidence in her work, and in 1995 she set out for New York City in a pickup truck with $700.

As a reporter with a community newspaper in Brooklyn, she met local members of the growing café poetry scene. A producer for the nationally distributed Showtime at the Apollo television program heard one of her readings, leading to a chance to appear on the show's amateur-night segment in October 1995. In 1997, she started a publishing company, Moore Black Press, publishing her poetry, The Words Don't Fit in My Mouth, and works by other poets.

In 2000, Moore moved to Atlanta and expanded her operations to include a cafe and bookstore. In 2001 Moore wrote the play, There Are No Asylums for the Real Crazy Women, and published The Alphabet Versus the Ghetto. A sign of Moore's growing recognition came when she was invited to perform at the U.S. Comedy Festival as part of a "Def Poetry Jam" organized by hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons. By 2001 her poetry had appeared in such publications as Essence, Blaze, African Voices, and Black Elegance, many of them not known for publishing poetry.

"I don't sleep," she told the Michigan Chronicle that year. "It's my own fault." And indeed, her career trajectory, which had helped reawaken the art of African American poetry, seemed limited only by her store of energy. Commissioned by The Apollo Theater to debut her 2009 multi-media solo theater show, God is Not an American sold out the Apollo Theater Salon Series.

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