My name is Jasmine, but I prefer Pryncez. I love writing poetry. It helps me deal with things that are going on. I also can draw, but it’s based more off moods — mainly if I’m sad or mad. My passion is dancing, though, and it comes second nature. I’m an aspiring artist, actress and model.

My favorite color is hot pink. I love cooking (and eating, LOL), styling hair, and having hair done. I’m a very comical person. A day with me is a lifetime of laughter. I’m from the west side of Chicago. I have two children, Lyric and Lavail. They are my life and air that I breathe.

One thing I want is to give my children everything in life that I did not have. I want to one day be known around the world as that loving, funny, unique, stand-up, stand-out, brave, assertive, intelligent, talented woman that everyone who meets me has grown to know.
–Jasmine “Pryncez” Harris–

Part 4 of 4, The Halfway House Poets: Words of Faith by Former Inmates

Background by Brandon Crockett:
About eight years ago, I began teaching a poetry class at St. Leonard’s Ministries, a halfway house for individuals recently released from prison on Chicago’s near west side. I went there, fresh out of college, with the anticipation that I would cause a paradigm shift for the residents and help them change their lives.

What ended up happening was far different.

It quickly became clear to me that the difference between those who spend time in prison and those who don’t is negligible, at best. True, our circumstances vary, but we all have the ability to choose how we respond to our current situation in the ever-present now.

It is in this that I choose to place my faith. And it is here that freedom is found.

A poem by Jasmine “Pryncez” Harris

Not really knowing who I was, consistently trying to appeal to my family’s expectations while trying to live in my own identity.
Mad at everything outside and holding everything that hurt within me.
I thought You didn’t love me, but I was wrong.
Every time something went right I knew it was You all along.
When I was left alone in those cells, You stood out.
I thought I had no love, loyalty and trust but I had it from You without doubt.
I remember the first time You spoke to me; it was down the street, You said “be patient”.
I was, but only for so long and then I started to become complacent.
With certain things and specific people that really didn’t matter.
Owning a bruised heart that I allowed to almost get shattered.
Back then my family would never understand what I was feeling.
I had this image inside that was ready to emerge and become appealing.
I had to go “on the block” where I felt free.
It was the only place I felt I could be me.
I could sit outside all night and just clear my mind.
Feel the words and listen to the breeze at one time.
Sometimes I think about my life and what it could be.
But then again, that’s like wishing for a life without You with me.