About Kesi Augustine
Kesi Augustine was born in Syracuse, New York, and moved to New York City during her adolescence. She is a lifelong creative writer and book lover. She quickly earned her AA while attending Bard High School Early College (Manhattan), then her BA and MA in English literature, and completed her Ph.D. at New York University in 2018. Her dissertation, “The Invisible Reader,” discusses the empowering vision that 21st century African American children’s literature offers its underrepresented readers, especially through its stylistic innovation to help correct the impact of negative stereotypes and deficit teaching practices. It builds upon research she conducted at Williams College and Oxford University.
Meanwhile, Kesi learned about creative writing during various workshops for teens sponsored by organizations like High 5 Tickets to the Arts and 826NYC. These organizations encouraged her to publish her art criticism and to write her first full-length novel in verse. Every summer Kesi read hundreds of books from local Queens libraries, and has fond memories of sitting by the basketball court while buried in a Stephen King novel.
Kesi published her first poem, “African Dance,” in Skipping Stones at age seven. Her first short story, “Right Judgment,” appeared in Young Voices when she was twelve. At fourteen years old, she won the Poetry in Motion New York City Subway Centennial contest for her poem "Sleepless," which was featured on New York subways for a year. Since then, Kesi has been featured in publications that reflect her wide-ranging interests, including Gay City News, The Journal of African American Studies, USA TODAY, The Huffington Post, For Harriet, Winter Tangerine, The Crawl Space Journal, and Haiku Narrativo.
Kesi is currently teaching the Bard Sequence in New York City. This program seeks to bring the Bard College experience to partnered high schools and grant its students college credits. In addition to her 3/4 time position at Bard High School Early College Manhattan, and her creative writing 101 course at Gotham Writers Workshop, Kesi co-taught a successful socratic seminar of this kind at Urban Assembly School of Music and Art during the spring of 2019. In the fall of 2019, Kesi will expand the Sequence at Urban Assembly so it serves grades 10, 11, and 12.
Kesi is excited to be learning more about pedagogical theory and practices from Gloria Ladson-Billings, Lisa Delpit, bell hooks, and Paolo Friere. Kesi's classes blend "creative" and "academic" prompts to stretch students' thinking about relevant contexts for literary criticism, and to encourage them to express their voices, no matter the form.
Kesi is returning to creative writing, her first love, this year. Her poetry is currently exploring self-love, paying homage to courageous women artists, spiritual awakening, and flowers for emotional healing.