Long Beach City Councilwoman and Brooklyn native Anissa Moore published a book of original poetry in September that touches upon powerful themes of discrimination, family, women’s empowerment and community.
“When you go to Brooklyn, you experience people from different social classes,” Moore explained. “Everybody’s interacting with each other. The book has those things. It’s about family, community, racism, sexism. It’s about politics. ... It’s also about issues that happen within everyday society, like homelessness, sex trafficking, and it’s also about relationships and love.”
After scribbling her thoughts in free form poetry — usually while riding the New York City subway — for about 10 years, she decided to collect the poems and compile them into a self-published book.
The title, “11226: Just a Girl from Brooklyn,” is a homage to where she grew up in Flatbush, Brooklyn.
“I wanted to pay tribute to my neighborhood, the community and the people who inspired me to write the book,” Moore said.
She chose to self publish her book, Moore said, to try out the process of nontraditional publication, knowing that she would have the responsibility of marketing the book herself. She attributed much of the promotion process to contemporary technology.
“In today’s society, especially when we have social media, and because we have technology, it’s just so much easier now to go ahead and self publish,” Moore said.
Much of her inspiration was derived from the people she would encounter on the subway on a regular basis.
“Riding the New York City subway every day, you meet so many different types of people, so sometimes I would see things and it would trigger a poem, and I would just write about it,” Moore said.
But the pieces dive deeper into the kinds of people who comprise the local community, painting Brooklyn as a microcosm of society.
“It’s really about life, family, community, and it’s about issues that women have to face within a society, and because I’m a black woman, I have both — I’ve experienced sexism and racism together,” Moore said. “The poems reflect that — this whole concept of looking at the world through the lens of race, class and gender. Brooklyn is that.”
Moore said much of her writing was influenced by well-known writers including Gwendolyn Brooks, Langston Hughes and Nikki Giovanni.
The book cover displays the Church Avenue stop on the 2 train — an image that Moore said provides readers with a sense of where she was while she wrote her poems.
“I felt like this captured the whole feel of Brooklyn, being on the train,” she said. “Usually, I was on the train going to school and I was just writing poems. That’s pretty much the place where I wrote a lot of my stuff.”
The book also touched on the theme of gentrification, and the ever-changing scenes of Brooklyn’s neighborhoods.
“Brooklyn is changing, and some of the little nuances of Brooklyn are being lost,” Moore said. “There’s so many memories, and a lot of those places are gone now because people are building condos.”
Moore said she’s received a lot of positive feedback about her book, especially about her pieces that discuss women’s issues, but also from people of different backgrounds who fell in love with the concept of the book.
“People are saying they really appreciated the heartfelt poems and what I was trying to communicate in the book,” she said.
Moore also said she plans on hosting a book reading program in the coming months to give people an opportunity to listen to her work and ask questions. The book is available for purchase on Amazon and the Barnes & Noble website, as well as Moore’s website, at justagirlfrombrooklyn.com.
“I really feel tremendously accomplished,” she said. “When I received a copy of the book, I actually cried. It was a testament to perseverance, and being able to just push through and accomplish the goal. I always wanted to do this and share my work, and I finally had the opportunity to do it. I also felt like it was a tribute to my grandmother, because she passed away, and it’s something she’d be very proud of. And I could hopefully inspire other people who are thinking about publishing something: If you put your mind to it, you can really achieve anything. “