Notebook

Leesa Fenderson

Overwrought, it’s probably the grammar.

 
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Bio

Leesa Fenderson was born in Kingston, Jamaica and raised in Jamaica, Queens. She is a founding board member of Next Move Jamaica International, Inc, a non-profit that connects diasporic Jamaicans with students of need on the island.  Before pursuing writing full time she was a member of the New York State Bar and an in-house attorney at an image licensing agency known for its curated art and representation of some the world’s most iconic image-makers.

Leesa has been dedicated to preserving the rights of artists and educating them on how best to manage their intellectual property since she worked as a contract coordinator at Hachette Book Group. That dedication led her to law school, but her desire to create art began to tug at her years into her career as a lawyer. She began writing stories about her family, her triple consciousness as an immigrant, and how space and location are deeply tied to our physical and mental health. 


She attended Columbia University’s MFA program concentrating on non-fiction writing in an effort to explore her diasporic roots. What she found was a deeper understanding of the self and more questions. Once such question was: What happens when you move large groups of people from one location to another? This question was prompted from findings that show that people of color who have moved from hot climates such as the Caribbean and India to colder climates such as the Northeast in the US and England have higher incidences of the paranoid schizophrenia diagnosis. These studies linked directly to her work on migration and the body.


Intending to further her research and exploration of the question, she applied to USC’s Literature and Creative Writing PhD program. At USC she has expanded her foray of narrative into fiction. As Cherrie Moraga wrote in “A Xicana Dyke Codex of Changing Consciousness” the fiction of our lives can sometimes provide a truth far greater than any telling of a tale frozen to facts. Leesa explores both forms in an effort to unearth complex truths. In particular, her collection of short stories was birth from the diasporic voices of women who bend her ear and her will to ancestral wisdom. She hopes her readers will experience the truth of the worlds she inhabits and the truth of the worlds her ancestors inhabit, and the truth of the world our future inhabits.

Leesa previously worked at Rolling Stone Magazine as an attorney, Banc of America Securities, Hachette Book Group, and as a recruiter for her alma mater Brooklyn Law School.

Leesa’s public awareness work includes volunteerism with organizations such as the National Society of Black Engineers, Futures & Options, and the Black Law Students Association where she served as Vice President and President.


Leesa's work has appeared in Callaloo Journal, Uptown Magazine, Moko Magazine, and she was a Finalist in Paper Darts' Short Fiction contest. Leesa’s fiction was chosen as a semi-finalist for American Short Fiction’s 2020 Halifax Ranch Prize.

Photo by Marcus Morris (c) 2019, @marcusmorris 

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