Kayssie K. is the Poet Laureate for Bray, Co Wicklow. It has a special place in her heart, as a town where she grew up and a place that has fuelled her creativity.
“There’s something about bringing to life the many homes that I have experienced that has always felt so wholesome to me,” she says. “Throughout my works, I have found myself making references through language, culture, retelling stories and even familiar faces.
“In fact, to this day, I am in disbelief that I could perform ‘My sister as a Body’ in the place so close to my heart. Bray is the home that reared and nurtured all the different pieces of me for all these years. So this opportunity is even more special to me.”
A poet and singer-songwriter, Kayssie K., also known as Christie Kandiwa, was born in Zimbabwe and raised in Ireland. Her work is influenced by blending her Zimbabwean cultural heritage and her Irish upbringing and intertwines Southern-African myths and local languages and forms. As well as being published in Dedalus Press Writing Home: The ‘New Irish’ Poets anthology, her work was selected for Poetry Ireland’s Versify 2019 and she was a panellist for the IASIL 2019 Conference event: “Are We Doing Diversity Justice?”
In 2020, she worked along with Chiamaka Enyi-Amadi in the production of See x Sea as part of the Mother of Tongues Ireland which touched on elements of black womanhood, identity and themes of home. In the International Literature Festival 2020, she featured in Say it Aloud - We’re Irish! Beyond Representation and Writing Home - The New Irish Poets.
She also collaborated with Tari Takavarasha in the production of The Language I Cannot Speak which explored what it is to be Zimbabwean and from the diaspora. Their experiences, though varying and deeply rooted, united to paint a picture that says as much about beautiful and complex intergenerational relationships, as it does about the lasting and current effects of immigration, colonialism, multiculturalism and growing up into a proud black woman in the western world today. In 2021, she was one of the five Dream On Recipients facilitated by the Dublin Fringe Festival.
(Photo credit: Brian Cregan)
Kayssie will be presenting Bray’s Town Poem at a special event on 17 September. You can find out more info on the Poet Laureate Event page.