• Black Under

    Poems by Ashanti Anderson

    Black River Chapbook Competition Winner

    Cover Art: "Untitled" by Mariah Quintanilla | IG: @mariah_quintanilla


    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, 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



    Ashanti Anderson (She/her) is a Black Queer Disabled poet, screenwriter, and playwright. Focusing on resistance and autonomy, Ashanti challenges dehumanizing narratives while still holding oppressive institutions accountable.


    Ashanti holds an MFA in Creative Writing and leads workshops for teens and adults. She also collaborates with universities, non-profits, and healthcare workers to create programming that promotes diversity, inclusion, and minority health. Her experience includes developing literacy programs for youth; researching Black mental health; and consulting for literary publications. A complete CV is available upon request.

    Ashanti’s debut short poetry collection, Black Under, is available for pre-order now with Black Lawrence Press as the winner of the Spring 2020 Black River Chapbook Competition.




    sister, pick…, The Rumpus

    My Ancestor Who Learned to Read by Staring at The Bible, Limp Wrist




    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)

    Ode to Black Skin, POETRY Magazine (2019) Audio | In Portuguese

    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)


    Writer, Bleak Magic (2021)
    Commissioned by Blacklight Arts Collective

    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.



    Screenwriter, Study Room (2018)

    Winner of the 2017 Haley’s Flight Short Film Competition

    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.



    Contact Ashanti to SCHEDULE a workshop (in-person OR online).


    For bookings and speaking engagements, please contact Nanda Dyssou at nanda@corioliscompany.com.

    For all other inquiries, use the form.