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, founder of Shade Literary Arts
This book is polyvocal and kaleidoscopic; searing with slick acrostics, incisive self-portraiture, wry sixteen-line sonnets & ironic job descriptions (“Career-Changing Opportunity!”) seeking Black artists willing to “draw blood and conclusions”—to carve a living from death and intergenerational trauma. Black Under defies strict categorization, save for the fact that it is altogether excellent. Ashanti Anderson reminds me that, given the right pitch, “this bubbled mouth ain’t a sick it’s a cure.”
—Marcus Wicker, author of Silencer and
Maybe the Saddest Thing
. . . The speakers in Black Under are fully aware of the white gaze and are absolutely unconcerned with its survival. Instead, they’re focused. Anderson writes, “I erased my smile in another poem because someone said it made no sense,” and follows with, “if you want blood I will have for you my red wet grin.” I’ve read these poems again and again, and every time I leave like—it’s we time.
—Sara Borjas, author of Heart Like a Window, Mouth Like a Cliff
Cutting, saturated, and comprehensive, Ashanti Anderson charts necessary poetry with searing ache. There’s so much to unpack here, the painful cacophony white supremacy does to Black spirit, lineage, and innovation yet more profound, the Black dynamism that is beyond erasure. Anderson’s debut constructs a world in a concise catastrophe that makes the bones ache. . . Witness Anderson’s haunting and marvelous skill.
—Kay Ulanday Barrett, cultural strategist and author of More Than Organs, a 2021 Stonewall Honor Award Book
sister, pick…, The Rumpus
Two Poems, Jet Fuel Review
Three Poems, Tupelo Quarterly
Self-Portrait as Kendrick Lamar, Laughing to the Bank, POETRY Magazine In Portuguese
If, World Literature Today (2019)
Two Poems, Crab Fat Magazine (2017)
Goddam, Really System (2017)
Teach Me to Float, Panoply (2016)
Deep Nostalgia, Container (2021)
The Black Women in ‘Joker’ Have Something to Say, Medium (2019)
One-Act | Dark Comedy | 20 pp. | Written for a virtual platform
When a conjure woman perfects a potion for “Black magic,” she uncovers the nefarious desires of her clients.
Short Film | Comedy | 8 min | STATUS: Produced
A young woman races against the clock to finish her term paper on time while being harassed by annoying classmates.