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Poet Lavinia “Missie” Jackson Returns to Her Alma Mater


This past Wed., March 10, Loyola alumna Lavinia “Missie” Jackson returned to her undergraduate university to perform a poetry reading in the Women’s Center. She read from her own book titled “Poetry in Plain Sight.” This compilation of poetry covers works written over the span of 25 years, some of which Jackson composed during her time at Loyola, including “Mottos” and “Next Lifetime is Now.”

As an African-American female on campus, Jackson confessed that she found her voice being marginalized and often felt forced to fit it into a certain frame. She knew that this issue was a campus-wide—and even citywide—phenomenon, and used it as an opportunity to make a difference in the city she then called home.

The publication of “Poetry in Plain Slight” did not come as a minor accomplishment for Jackson. It is something that brings her immense pride and joy, and is a dream come true. Gathered in a small room in the Women’s Center, an intimate group of Loyola alumni, friends, old professors and current Loyola students sat in a small circle and listened closely as Jackson shared her gift.

But as any poet or writer knows, the craft is not always this gratifying. It took a quarter of a decade for this vision of Jackson’s to become a reality, and there were times when she felt as though it was not worth pursuing at all. “I spent a lot of time running away from my gift,” she confessed, “but my gift always called me.”

Jackson attributes much of her success to her time at Loyola. Upon leaving the Evergreen campus and carrying her Jesuit education with her to different jobs.

“I never knew the weight of what we have here. When people discovered that I am a graduate of Loyola University Maryland, they held me to an extremely high standard,” she said.

When asked why she decided to return to her alma mater and share her accomplishments with us, Jackson said, “There is a sanctity here I didn’t know in my life… I felt an obligation to come back.”

Now, she embodies the virtues of charity and demonstrates the Jesuit value of cura personalis, or care for the whole self, by being a part of organizations such as Artists for Justice, Lionsheart Network and Footsteps to Follow. It is people like Jackson who prove how far a Loyola education can bring students in post-grad life, as long as they are brave enough to pursue their passions and push to truly make a difference in the world.

Feature Image: Areta Ekarafi Photo, Courtesy of Flickr URL

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Poet Lavinia “Missie” Jackson Returns to Her Alma Mater