Author: Anderson, Ashanti
Publisher: Black Lawrence Press
New from the publisher
Poetry. African & African American Studies. LGBTQIA Studies. Winner of the Spring 2020 Black River Chapbook Competition. The poem from which BLACK UNDER derives its title opens with a resounding declaration: I am black and black underneath. These words are an anthem that reverberates throughout Ashanti Anderson's debut short collection. We feel them as we navigate her poems' linguistic risks and shifts and trumpets; as we straddle scales that tip us toward trauma's still-bloody knife in one turn then into cutting wit and shrewd humor in the next. We hear them amplified through Anderson's dynamic voice; which sings of anguish and atrocities and also of discovery and beauty.
BLACK UNDER layers outward perception with internal truth to offer an almost-telescopic examination of the redundancies--and incongruences--of marginalization and hypervisibility. Anderson torques the contradictions of oppression; giving her speakers the breathing room to discover their own agency. In these pages; declarations are reclamations; and joy is not an aspiration but a birthright.
It is rare to see such work as Ashanti Anderson's BLACK UNDER dive so deeply; head-first and unflinching; into history; taking it under one's wing as if their own body and blood lived those traumatic experiences; housed those moments of joy. To prepare myself for audacious lines such as 'Oh; fluted ribcage; won't you sing;' would be impossible. Anderson is a fierce storyteller; unmaking and recreating images; shifting what language can do--will do. Oh! There is such beauty in clear lines like 'This is how I pray for you when I'm not pessimistic' or; 'I tried staring at the sun once because I needed a metaphor.' You; too; will wish for metaphorical moments when Anderson whips such beauty across the page. And trust; you will get one; but it will not be what you expect.--Luther Hughes
This book is polyvocal and kaleidoscopic; searing with slick acrostics; incisive self-portraiture; wry sixteen