Book: Everything is Necessary
Author: Keisha-Gaye Anderson
Critic: Glenville Ashby, PhD
Life is unforgiving, even brutal. Oftentimes, we stumble through this journey, victimized by a Darwinian system from which there’s no escape. But we fight back, survive we must, maybe instinctively. Somehow, we must conjure an indefinable strength, lest we succumb, strewn by the wayside. This is the enduring message of Keisha-Gaye Anderson.
In Everything is Necessary, a compendium of riveting poetry, Anderson continues where she left off in the critically acclaimed, Gathering the Waters.
Everything is Necessary, though, is written with palpable urge, every sentence clinically tailored for deep reflection. Moreover, there’s an unmistakable metaphysical element in her writings.
Anderson widens the window to her soul, and we garner much. Beneath the spirit of resistance, there’s a yearning for connection, not in a pedestrian, self-serving way. Hers is a search for truth and the essence of being. This ontological musings are very present in ‘Meditation,’ where she writes at the outset, “me is there not you is here no, us is where space dissipates into music
called body…and I see your doves all around me, is you, is us. I hear your love songs in the mouths of passersby, is you, is us…because you look through my eyes, see me, speak me…”
Eldership is celebrated in ‘Age.’ It’s a signature of wisdom. ‘Age,’ she pens, “should expand the iris of your name into a doorway that lets the blazing light, splintered through darkness, come into clearer view, years should bloom you like a field of freesias under the sun of your mind…age is tempering us into the perfect shape of the divine.”
In ‘Knowing,’ Anderson message on divinity echoes that of Eastern Thought. We are co-creators with the Divine, inextricably bound, a spark of light rooted in our being. Of this essence, many are oblivious. She writes, “Man is just a microphone, another shape singing the grace of the creator…God is nowhere, God is you.”
But life’s brutality shifts our attention toward resistance by any means.
For Anderson, the pen and the spoken word are part and parcel of her armamentarium, her revolution, moreover, her healing.
She cries out for help in ‘Dark of Moon.’
“Can you help me see through this morass, where are you, Mami? And she rocks with her words spoken by my voice: No one is going to help, do what you want, I do, little one. Keep going.”
This ‘not one step backward’ mantra permeates her resolve amid the maddening chaos around the oppressed.
Fittingly, she writes in ‘Where Are the Soldiers,’ “Where are my brothers to brace me against these torrents of shattered glass that bury our past before cane, and breeding name this body according to its yielding, and bend love backwards into hate because the swarm cannot take the Earth’s heartbeat?
In ‘Refugee,’ she remains unbowed, “I stand before you as a refugee, casualty of war, I don’t know if my mother’s mothers’ were conceived out of love or entitlement. The double edged sword of awareness, knowledge – “Chanting my father’s fathers’ indignation as a spell for protection scribing the music of their bravery onto lanterns called poetry”.
In ‘Trapped,’ Anderson’s already high-decibel angst intensifies. She is smothered not only by an environment from which she must break free. Her mind, too, is walled in. She can only reflect on those that have travelled this torturous road, in particular, her mother; of her endurance, she is bemused. “In my fourth decade of life,” she writes, “I now know I’ve been trapped in my mother’s fear and can you blame her for building this fortress around us? Love you, mom. I love you for what you endured to bring me here but I create worlds. It’s my job to dream…”
‘Live Louder’ ignites with a flurry of imagery.
“ I am a controlled explosion, prisoner of war bred to be half a memory of conjure, rhythm and myth, with one foot fastened in progress but only deep enough to tether us…”
But resolute she is to break through, to vanquish her demons. ‘Relay’ encapsulates her inexhaustible determination.
“I’ma run the hell outta this relay soul stride, Earth stint, slow sprint, bone prison, life mission to leave memory as a compass, thin the veil, end the time. And I will move toward the horizon, lead my daughters to the waters where I picked up this baton…”
‘Strange Food,’ is arguably Anderson’s most provocative offering. For her progeny, she must exercise restraint, fall in line, if only for a while. The wounds of the system, she nurses, until such time. She intones, “I’ve swallowed my pride so many times. I play a dull role in dim light for a meal for safe negro credentials so my children will be spared the firing range it’s a strange state, silent mouth swallowing acid but been devouring ourselves since, [but] I will use my tongue to lick myself on fire clean off the soot…”
And in the eponymous, ‘Everything is necessary,’ Anderson delivers a lesson on the psyche that calls for attention. We react, cognitively and emotionally in how we perceive the world. But reality, our every experience – good and bad – is integral, essential to the natural order of things.
Philosopher David Hume once write, “The great charm of poetry consists of lively pictures of the sublime, magnanimity, courage…or those of tender affection, love and friendship….even the most disagreeable, such as grief and anger…when excited by poetry [are] not easy to explain.”
Such is the magic of Everything is Necessary, a cathartic work that mirrors an unremitting quest for equality and justice.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.)
Feedback: [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @glenvilleashby
Publisher: Willow Books, a Division of Aquarius Press
Available at Amazon
Ratings: Highly recommended
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