Jess X. Snow
Artist and Poet
It took poetry and a community of writers of color to get Jess X. Snow to overcome her stutter. Now, the child of Chinese immigrants — who writes about the nature of migration — feels like she is the first person in her family to be able to tell their story without fear of censorship. The artist and poet gives her Brief but Spectacular take.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Now another in our Brief But Spectacular episodes, where we ask interesting people about their passions.
Tonight, we hear from artist and poet Jess X. Snow, who uses her art to help her overcome a speech impairment.
JESS X. SNOW, Artist and Poet: My parents, they grew up in a government in China that had a lot of censorship.
And when I was discovering art for the first time, I felt like there was a door that opened in my family's ancestry, and I could be — I could be the first person to tell our story without the fear of censorship.
And I felt like me reclaiming my voice in the U.S. and overcoming my stutter created a doorway into being able to share my family's story to the public.
I would get bullied a lot in the classroom, and people would finish my sentences for me. Through my art, I was able to see myself overcoming my stutter. I found a community of poets of color when I was in college. And that was the first time I was able to share my poetry on a stage.
When that happened, I just stopped. I stopped stuttering.
Imagination is daring to love what is not in front us. So, what then is immigration, if not imagination given a destination? Migration is magic. Of course they're afraid of all who possess it.
A lot of my work is inspired by the idea that migration is natural. And I just think a border drawn upon the earth's skin is extremely unnatural. And when people's families and lives are policed by borders, the result is that young immigrants grow up feeling like their identities are divided and they have to give up, like, their homelands, they have to give up their connections to their families.
Maybe I will have a stutter for my whole life, but, regardless, I'm able to accept it because to be an artist is to create a home for yourself in your work, regardless of how many times your identity has been split, whether it's by immigration or a speech impediment.
My name is Jess X. Snow, and this is my Brief But Spectacular take on why migration is natural.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And, Jess, we're cheering you on.
And you can find a link to Jess' latest short film, "Migration Is Natural," on our Facebook page, and additional Brief But Spectacular episodes on our Web site, pbs.org/newshour/brief.