In 1974, when Ntozake Shange first released the cannon of Black girl magic known as For colored girls who have considered suicide / when the rainbow is enuf, her opening stanza was a call to all of us.
“somebody / anybody
sing a black girl's song
bring her out
to know herself …”
This book is answer to that call.
Anastacia-Reneé’s words frame so many questions: what is sacred, what is beauty, what is tragedy, what rites of passage have we endured to be initiated into the complexities of our humanity? These poems read like rituals, invoking ancestors and Becky alike in a nuanced honest reflection of this time in life.
These poems are stories of blackness, of queerness, of womanhood, and of all the identities we hold externally and internally that create the tapestry of who we are and who we want to be.
Anastacia-Reneé's (v.) broils the alphabet with accents of Zora and bobby pins and tangled braids; she is busy here melding a blackgirl womansong with a backbeat of black jesus and barbie heads; she is weaving a ghosted blues of cop cars and sparrow eyes; she is translating a language of pain to a semaphore of power. Open these pages and "un-fly yourself/ upward to the moonlight/ christen your feet/ within a wrecked nest..." and witness a unique voice that has come into its own.
Tyehimba Jess, winner of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize
The titles alone suggest the inventiveness of this terrific new book: “An Incomplete Inventory of What You Are Made of," "Essay Test Questions," "Psalms from a 16-Year-Old’s Life Bible." The poems of Anastacia-Reneé synthesize voice and body; prayer and meditation; politics and play; love and sexuality. Even poetic form is synthesized with monologues, glossaries, prose, and fragments. The lyrical, conceptual and formal experiments of (v.) are daring and breathtaking. This is a wonderful collection.
Terrance Hayes, winner of the 2010 National Book Award
When you hear Anastacia-Reneé read poetry, you’ll make much more noise than you normally would at a poetry reading. You’ll make a variety of noises, some of which will be unfamiliar to you, all of them louder than you expect. Because Anastacia-Reneé delivers what poetry should provide: an emotional experience that’s familiar and relatable, yet framed so uniquely it’s like having emotions for the first time.
June 27, 2017
Accurately described in Rezina Habtemariam's afterword as “a raw meditation on the politics brutally imposed on the bodies of Black girls and women,” the book both challenges poetic traditions in African-American literature and affirms the best humanistic and spiritual traditions that come from it. The dexterity of her pen—the way she fuses styles and brings experimental poetics together with fundamentals from the oral tradition—gives her poetic experiments a complex beauty and power. In short: she says things that direly need to be said, and she says them in the way that only great art can.
June 28, 2017
She has written under a number of aliases over the years, and her work investigates the question of identity—race, sexuality, community—in nearly every poem. She is fragmented, and she is mighty, and she is a force of nature. She’s exactly the kind of writer we need to see posted on every corner of the city right now.
July 17, 2017