Jessica Reidy is a Brooklyn-based writer and professor. She is the winner of the Penelope Nivens award for Creative nonfiction, and her work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. Her poetry, fiction, and nonfiction have appeared in Narrative Magazine as Short Story of the Week, The Los Angeles Review, Prairie Schooner, and other journals. She’s a Kripalu-certified yoga instructor, offering yoga and creative writing workshops. She also works her Romani (“Gypsy”) family trades, fortune telling, energy healing, and dancing. Additionally, she is an artist and art model working with a number of artists and studios in the city. She is currently writing her first book.

Great-great grandmother Mathilde

My great-great grandmother Mathilde, Sinti/Romani dancer

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 am also available to lecture, teach workshops and retreats, give talks, and other seminars.


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.

Art Modeling

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 also model 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. 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

17 thoughts on “About

  1. Thanks so much! I owe all the coolness to the photographer 🙂 I’ve been wondering about the genre too. I think I’ll say the novel is cultural/historical fiction– it’s set in 1952 and follows Coco, a young Romani (Gypsy) woman who works at a circus outside of Paris as a fortune teller and dancer. She survived the Romani genocide of WWII by hiding in the Black Forest with her mother, Mina, an exiled Romani writer who now lives in a Parisian asylum. As Coco pieces together her own story and her mother’s story, she uncovers secrets, dangerous threats, and ecstatic visions, and launches on a journey in pursuit of justice.

    I hope you don’t mind a synopsis– and thank you for checking out my page. Happy holidays!

  2. John Corvus says:

    Greetings & Salutations Jessica,
    Saw you enjoyed a few of pics from my Sara e Kali album on Pinterest, so I thought that would check in. GREAT website! I was concerned about you declaring yourself a “Gypsy Witch”; the term is often used without thought. However, it looks like those concerns were unfounded! 🙂 I do enjoy that you are taking your Rromani blood seriously. It is rare to find on the internet. Great choice of links.
    Keep up the good work, and until our paths next cross – be well!

  3. arsenal1again says:

    The vibe I get from your blog is the ‘Nigella of Romani culture’. Do you and your sort drink wine at the end of the day with your pinky out while eating some nibbles.

  4. Jessica! I am so excited to find your work!!! I just read about your workshop in Granada last night and I’m kicking myself that I didn’t find out about it sooner. If you do it again next summer I want to go! Thank you so much!
    Much Regard,
    Nicole Henares “Aurelia Lorca”

  5. Hi, Jessica!
    Im a historian and gypsy dance teacher in Brazil, and im amazed with your texts. As a non-Roma, I was looking for some text about romani tea and found your text about roma people and your traditions, food and discrimination. . Here, in Brazil, many people are as you said, “daydreamed of life as a gypsy”, and I always try to demystify it. I always try to find good references to write and post on my blog to my students and many curious people. So, your text, specially, I would like to translate, because it is a “romani voice” telling about it.
    I´ve studied too about rom and calom dances, but it is very difficult (for me) to find sinti dance. So if you have a video where you dance, please, can you share?
    If you want to know my job, it is my blog

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