This post is part of our blog series that announces the publication of selected new books in African American History and African Diaspora Studies. Everything is Necessary was recently published by Willow Books.
The author of Everything is Necessary is Keisha-Gaye Anderson, a Jamaican-born poet, writer, visual artist, and media professional based in Brooklyn, NY. Her debut poetry collection Gathering the Waters was accepted into the Poets House Library and the National Library of Jamaica. Her second poetry collection of 2019, A Spell for Living, received the Editors’ Choice recognition for the Numinous Orisons, Luminous Origin Literary Award and is forthcoming from Agape Editions as a multimedia e-book, including music and Keisha’s original artwork. Keisha’s poetry, fiction, and essays have been widely published in national literary journals, magazines, and anthologies that include Kweli Literary Journal, Small Axe Salon, Interviewing the Caribbean, Renaissance Noire, The Caribbean Writer, The Killens Review of Arts and Letters, Mosaic Literary Magazine, African Voices Magazine, Streetnotes: Cross Cultural Poetics, Caribbean in Transit Arts Journal, The Mom Egg Review, and others. Keisha is a past participant of the VONA Voices and Callaloo writing workshops, a former fellow of the North Country Institute for Writers of Color, and was short-listed for the Small Axe Literary Competition. In 2018, Keisha was selected as a Brooklyn Public Library Artist in Residence. Her visual art has been featured in exhibitions in the tristate area and in such literary journals as The Adirondack Review, Joint Literary Magazine, and No, Dear Magazine. She currently works as a communications director for a large public college in New York City. Keisha regularly teaches English courses across The City University of New York and also leads writing workshops for non-profits and other organizations. She is a graduate of the Syracuse University Newhouse School and College of Arts and Sciences and holds an MFA in creative writing from The City College, CUNY. Follow her on Twitter @KeishaGaye1.
Everything Is Necessary is a conversation in free verse that alternates between the subjective, the collective, and the world of the ancestors. These poems assure us that, amidst the vicissitudes of human life, everything is necessary for one to truly manifest his or her highest self in this lifetime.
Keisha-Gaye Anderson’s Everything Is Necessary brings readers into the intimate heart of a Jamaican-American woman’s complicated world. Her poetry explores the many ways in which the African Diaspora is carried within our bodies, on our tongues—from sufferings under enslavement to the precarity of modern American life. She uses migration stories and difficult family history to express the interplay of economic status, aspiration for something, anything better, harsh love, discipline, and courage. This is a necessary collection from a poet who is hitting her stride.— Patricia Spears Jones, author of A Lucent Fire and winner of the Jackson Poetry Prize
J.T. Roane: Books have creation stories. Please share with us the creation story of your book—those experiences, those factors, those revelations that caused you to research this specific area and produce this unique book.
Keisha-Gaye Anderson: The poems that made it into this collection were not originally conceived as a book. I was writing regularly, as I always do. My daily artistic practice includes either drawing or writing something, every day. When I looked back over the body of work I’d produced, I noticed that several poems seemed to represent a conversation between me and my ancestors, or me and myself, when faced with some very formidable life challenges, with a consistent message emerging in different ways: “everything is necessary” for your growth into the best possible version of yourself on this earth. Not the pain or trauma, but the lesson derived from them. The poems explore things like ancestral trauma, self-determination in the midst of a hostile and racist society, and the need to find the beauty in even the most ugly experiences. I offer a different way of seeing some of our collective experiences, and I encourage introspection and a deep knowing of one’s self as a doorway to evolution.