Jessica Reidy is a Brooklyn-based writer and professor. Her work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net, and her poetry, fiction, and nonfiction have appeared in Narrative Magazine as Short Story of the Week, The Los Angeles Review, The Missouri Review blog, and other journals. She’s also the winner of The Penelope Nivens Award for Creative Nonfiction. She’s an editor for The VIDA Review as well as a freelance writer and editor. She is a Kripalu-certified yoga instructor offering yoga and creative writing workshops, and also works her Romani (“Gypsy”) family trades, fortune telling, energy healing, and dancing. She is an artist as well as an art model working with a number of artists and studios in the city. She is currently writing her first book.
A word about the word “Gypsy”
The word “Gypsy” is a racial slur that refers to the Roma, a diasporic ethnic group originally from India. The word draws on ugly and inaccurate stereotypes about us, for example, “gypped” to mean “cheated.” I occasionally reclaim this word as an act of linguistic empowerment and as a way to inform others about the slur. However, it is not ok for non-Romani people, companies, or brands to use this word. It is like any other racial slur, and it should not be used or appropriated, even if you think it’s pretty.
Teaching & Writing & Yoga
In addition to working as an English professor in NYC, I also lecture, teach workshops, give talks, and other seminars. I am available for hire, and here are some of the regular workshops and classes that I run.
I teach yoga at Family of Light Holistic Center in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn Sunday mornings from 9:30-11, and occasionally give workshops on a number of topics
I teach Yoga & Writing Workshops with Elissa Lewis called The Bridge Between Writing and Yoga at Sacred Sounds Yoga, usually the first Sunday of the month from 1:30-4 PM in Greenwich Village, Manhattan.
I’m available to perform Romani-bellydance fusion at events and performances. Please inquire to book.
Tarot, Palm, and Tea Leaf Reading
While some Roma practice fortune telling, not all of us do, and it is a trade that grew out of persecution. Our forced-nomadism required that our ancestors to come up with work they could do anywhere, and gadje (non-Roma) believed that we had magical powers (of course we don’t) and so the tradition of fortune telling was born. My grandmother taught me to read fortunes and I’ve worked this trade since I was a child, and now I read as a way to help people work through their cross-roads and life-changes with the aid of symbols and metaphor. If this is something you would like to try, you can contact me to book an in-person or Skype session, or you can find me at Tarot Society. I also read at parties, festivals, and corporate events.
If you have a studio in the NYC area and would like me to model for a class or group, feel free to contact me. I have also modeled for individual artists. References available upon request.
I’d be honored to be interviewed about my work. However, I get a lot of requests from well-meaning people writing Romani characters who want to interview me about my life-story in order to inform their characters, and I don’t do these kinds of interviews. I explain why in my essay “Esmeralda Declines an Interview,” in The Missouri Review. Writing well-rounded Romani characters is a great thing though, so I suggest that you read the many literary works by Romani writers to do this. Qristina Zavačková Cummings has a great list of Romani authors on her blog, I have a list of “20 Gypsy Women You Should Be Reading” for VIDA: Women in Literary Arts, and there are many more resources out there but that’s a start.
Photography: Top photo by Aurora Rose, Auroraandjohn.com