Anticenter: Black Poetic Composition at the Margins

Quenton Baker, Chekwube Danladi, and Anastacia-Reneé, approach the question each from their own distinctive compositional perspectives.

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Despite the great flourishings of the Harlem Renaissance and Black Arts Movement, Black poets and other poets of color have, for the majority of American literary history, worked at the margins. With an increase in representation in publishing, across national, eminent literary prizes and several Poets Laureate of color, some have argued that a reckoning of sorts has occurred or is in the process of doing so. What are we to make of the poets whose practice has remained outside the center or been neglected by it? Baker, Danladi and Anastacia-Reneé, approach the question each from their own distinctive compositional perspectives.

Quenton Baker is a poet, educator, and Cave Canem fellow. His current focus is black interiority and the afterlife of slavery. His work has appeared in The OffingJubilatVinylThe Rumpus and elsewhere. He was a 2019 Robert Rauschenberg Artist in Residence and a 2021 NEA Fellow. He is the author of we pilot the blood (The 3rd Thing, 2021), and the forthcoming ballast (Haymarket, 2023).

Chekwube Danladi is the author of Semiotics (Georgia, 2020), winner of the Cave Canem Poetry Prize. She has received support from Kimbilio Fiction, the Lambda Literary Foundation, Hedgebrook, the Vermont Studio Center, and the Wisconsin Institute from Creative Writing. Her visual work has been commissioned by the Center for Afrofuturist Studies (a program of PS1), Already Felt: Poetry in Revolt and BountyLanger/Dickie, and the Black Poetry Review. She is the 2022-25 Writer-in-Residence at Occidental College and lives in Los Angeles.

Anastacia-Reneé is a writer, educator, interdisciplinary artist, TEDx Speaker and podcaster. She is the author of (v.) (Black Ocean) and Forget It (Black Radish) and, Here in the (Middle) of Nowhere and Side Notes from the Archivist forthcoming from Amistad (an imprint of HarperCollins). Renee was selected by NBC News as part of the list of "Queer Artist of Color Dominate 2021's Must See LGBTQ Art Shows." She was former Seattle Civic Poet (2017-2019), Hugo House Poet-in-Residence (2015-2017) and Arc Artist Fellow (2020). Her work has been published widely.