Spotlight: Keisha-Gaye Anderson

Keisha-Gaye Anderson is a storyteller who works across multiple genres and formats. Born in Kingston, Jamaica, and raised in Rosedale, Queens, she currently lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two children and works as a director of communications within a large public college. After earning her degree from Syracuse University (Newhouse and College of Arts and Science), Anderson entered her career in television production at CBS News, taking positions as associate producer and field producer for long-form documentaries such as A&E Biography. She then became associate producer for the PBS news program NOW With Bill Moyers. As a screenwriter, she has credits on the show New Morning, a Hallmark Channel program produced by Faith and Values Media, and the sitcom webisode The Married Bachelor. She is a member the Harlem Arts Alliance Screenwriting Workshop. As a freelance journalist, she has written for such publications as Psychology Today, Black Enterprise, Teen People, Honey, and Upscale.
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A member of the Author’s Guild, Anderson is the recipient of a 2010 fellowship from the North Country Institute for Writers of Color. As well, she was chosen to participate in the 2013 Callaloo Creative Writing Workshop at Brown University and selected for the VONA Voices Speculative Fiction Workshop with Tananarive Due in 2015. She earned her M.F.A. in Creative Writing from The City College, CUNY, in 2014. Her poetry collection Gathering the Waters was published by Jamii Publishing in 2014, after she had self-published her poetry chapbook Circle Unbroken in 2003. As a spoken-word artist, she has performed at such acclaimed venues as the Bowery Poetry Club, Nuyorican Poets Cafe, and The Knitting Factory. Anderson is one of the founding poets of a collective of diverse poets committed to the power of poetry to transform and educate called Poets for Ayiti. Proceeds from the collective’s poetry collection, For The Crowns of Your Heads helped rebuild Haiti’s Bibliotheque de Soleil, a library ruined by the 2010 earthquake. 
2018 is 
Keisha-Gaye Anderson’s first time as a Participating Writer at the Hobart Festival of Women Writers. She will offer the workshop, “Reimagining the Past to Write the Future,” and will read from her work. She is interviewed here by Stephanie Nikolopoulos for HBVFWW.
 Stephanie Nikolopoulos
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SN: You are one of the founding poets of Poets for Ayiti, a collective of poets from diverse backgrounds committed to the power of poetry to transform and educate. As well, your poetry book Gathering the Waters (2014) is about a woman who is undergoing a transformation. Can you tell us a little about why poetry specifically can be transformative?
KGA: Life itself is an ongoing experience of transformation, from physical to mental to emotional. The power of poetry lies in its ability to talk about universal human experiences in a way that engages all of our ‘intelligences,’ which in turn allows us to examine everyday life from a completely uncommon point of view. A poem that uses nature or an historical figure to talk about love expands the reader’s understanding of love and opens new vistas of self-awareness. Poetry has the power to help us examine ourselves and provides us with a psycho-spiritual roadmap for evolution.
SN: Do you make a distinction between your journalism writing and your poetry in terms of craft? How do your various forms of writing—not just journalism and poetry but also essays, fiction, and screenwriting—inform each other?
KGA: I am a storyteller. Each story that needs to be told demands a different form in the physical world. Obviously, in the realm of journalistic writing, we are dealing with conveying facts, based on objective reality. However, that may look like a Q&A or a standard news story. If I got a chance to interview Prince, for example, I’d go with a Q&A because we all want to hear him speak. If I’m reporting on an event like a concert, I’d use a narrative form of storytelling to relate the experience through my own voice. Similarly, with poetry, fiction, my visual art, and screenwriting, each story begs something different. With my poems, I’ve referenced mainly my internal world, my interaction with ancestors, and my wrestling with my own journey of self-awareness. My fiction has dealt more with commentary on culture and family dynamics. My visual art conveys feelings that are sometimes too abstract for me to put into words, but no less potent. I always try to find the strongest vehicle to convey what I want to say so that it has the maximum resonance with the reader and most accurately conveys the message. 
SN: Next year, your multi-media ebook A Spell for Living will come out through Agape and it will include music and your original artwork. What was the process for creating this project? Did it start with the words and grow out of that or was there more of an ongoing dialogue between the various art forms of the ebook?
KGA: The wedding of my poems with my visual art was one of those “Aha!” moments.  I was drawing a lot more last year, and when the manuscript won the Editor’s Choice recognition for Agape’s annual literary competition, I thought it would be cool to pair the poems with drawings that convey similar themes, for a more layered reader experience. We will also be pairing some of the pieces with original music. I would say that the starting point was the poems themselves. We thought about how to maximize the use of the digital format, so images and sound came to mind shortly thereafter. And yes, the poems, art, and music will very much be in a continual dialogue with this project. Though each piece of art can stand alone, they are more powerful together. 

Find out more about Keisha-Gaye Anderson at

For information about Festival of Women Writers 2018
For Spotlights of all of the 2018 Participating Writers go to
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