Poet: Kerrie Joy

Kerrie Joy Landell was born at Downstate University in Brooklyn, NY and she resided on Willmohr St. until the age of 7. She was raised by two hard working Jamaican parents growing up on the finest West Indian cuisine from the hands of her mother. Her father, Edgar, was a black town car driver and her mother, Pearlyn, was a caretaker who loved to sing, introducing music to Kerrie she even left the womb. Being raised on the pew of an Apostolic church on Linden Blvd. in Jamaica, Queens, Kerrie was encouraged to embrace “music that only glorifies God.” She grew up on the sounds of Mahalia Jackson, The Grace Thrillers, Fred Hammond, John P. Kee, and many others.

In 1997, Kerrie’s family moved approximately two hours north of Brooklyn to a city/town called Newburgh, NY (the 6th borough as residents liked to call it, competing with places like Long Island). Although her family still had very deep roots in Brooklyn, Queens, and Yonkers, Newburgh is the city that made Kerrie. This is where she came out to her mother (which didn’t go too well) and found herself fully devoted to her church attending services and groups at least four days a week. Kerrie was taught, very early, that the world was not her home, she was just passing through. This is also where she was taught to pray, from a very young age, to be healed of the “disease of homosexuality.” She was taught she was unworthy and undeserving, unable to discuss the woes of her personal life because everything that was wrong was a result of her wrong doing and a punishment the she ultimately deserved.

Kerrie stuffed down her truth, her pain, her joy, and her essence hoping to “kill her flesh” and “deny herself” so that God would accept her. “He” never did, although Kerrie was diligent in her study of the word, in prayer, and in fasting. She became everything that she was instructed to be, not understanding her power of choice because all she truly knew was fear. Until about the age of 14, as a result of her environment, she began to write, finding that to be her only outlet and her only source of freedom. But Kerrie still never truly knew herself. She attended Heritage Middle School and Newburgh Free Academy where she struggled finding her rhythm until she met her 11th grade english teacher, Ms. Jennifer Costabile. It was that class that changed her life, teaching her the power of story telling and to embrace the voice within. However, trusting that voice was damnation, according to the scriptures. So she continued to search outside of herself for truth.

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