SHORTLISTED FOR THE POLARI FIRST BOOK PRIZE
'There is strong correlation between childhood trauma and mental health issues. I suffer with PTSD and depression, and use poetry to write honestly about the multitude of issues I have experienced in my 39 years. I have found writing to be hugely therapeutic. While I recognize the value of professional therapy, my poetry has helped me to come to terms with some of these issues.
If they're not already doing so, I hope to inspire the readers of this book to speak and write their truth. We don’t have to be qualified writers to write down how we feel – honesty is the only qualification for this kind of work – and we don’t have to share it unless we want to.
This collection is called Charred. Think of a piece of wood that has been exposed to the flames. You may think of it as damaged – and it’s true it has been burnt and blackened – but it is still resilient, and much stronger after going through this process. Think of me as a piece of charred wood.'
Andreena Leeanne, age 39, is an out and proud Black working-class Lesbian Poet, compère, inspirational speaker and mother to a teenage daughter. Born in Edgware, London, Andreena was sent to live with her grandparents in St Ann, Jamaica from age 1. At the age of 7 she returned to London and lived in several London boroughs with her mother. Andreena returned to Jamaica at age 17 to find herself, coming back to the UK at age 18 with a man she married at 19. Having been kicked out of home at 18, after experiencing a period of homelessness she eventually settled in the London Borough of Waltham Forest where, to cut a long story short, she currently lives with her fiancé, Germaine, and her 18-year-old daughter Renée. Andreena hopes to one day return to Jamaica, to challenge the extensive homophobia and culture of childhood sexual abuse that exists there.
Andreena writes and performs poetry to come to terms with and speak out about her personal experiences with homelessness, mental health, childhood sexual abuse and the many other challenges she has faced in her life. By speaking her truth, she hopes to inspire and empower others to speak their truth and take action.
In January 2015 Andreena founded Poetry LGBT Open Mic Night. Poetry LGBT is a warm and welcoming space for the LGBTQ+ community to come together to share their experiences through poetry and spoken word. It is a vital and much needed space for the LGBTQ+ community to share, create and express themselves. Andreena facilitates these sessions live at physical venues and online via Zoom.
Andreena delivers writing workshops online and in person, and often performs her poetry at community-led events, Labour Party events, and for local authorities such as the London Borough of Hackney during LGBT History Month, the Greater London Authority, and at International Women’s Day events; and has had her work published in the anthology Sista! (Team Angelica, 2018).
In 2018 Andreena was one of Stonewall’s Black History Month role models. Most recently she was delighted to be shortlisted by the National Diversity Awards as a Positive LGBT Role Model.
If you would like to get in touch, email: Andreena1@hotmail.com Instagram
Here's a great interview with Andreena by LGBT Africa.
Listen to Andreena discuss finding her truth through her writing in Stories by Emeka here.
Here's a wonderful review of Charred by Natalie Scott.
Read a fascinating interview with Andreena by poet and author Leslie Tate here.
Here's a great review by Quaquaversal.
Read this informative piece about Andreena and her lockdown activism in the Walthamstow Forest Echo.
Here's a great interview with Andreena on booklovers.
A great review from Pentoprint here.
And finally, here's a surprising and charming review of Charred by Exterior Designs, the timber company that supplied free samples of burnt wood to help with the cover design.
As a charming bonus: Andreena and her family consider leaving London in this BBC documentary here.
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Do check out this poignant interview with Andreena Leeanne: