Released under her alter ego Angel Ash, Capsule is Ashanté J. Ford’s rarities collection, poems from 2014 to 2022 “that have lived exclusively in journals, the notes app, older blog posts and on scraps of paper throughout the years.” From teens to twenties, from high school to Europe, Ashanté explores her truth in these quick and direct poems from the heart. The collection reads like forgotten diary entries, moments in a life revisited to see how far one has come. It is also not afraid to reach back, embodying Black joy through the concept of Sankofa, of retrieval. Pain and wonder are never far from each other here. “I’m so jealous of Birds,” she writes in “This is What it feels Like to have Long arms (2017):,” “They really see shit like that every day.” Lines like this speak to the central message at hand: resilience. There is a continued celebration of the selves one is and can/will be, the journey of knowing each of them and loving them in kind. In “Black★ (2020),” she writes:
“The thing I love most about tears is their versatility—
how easily they can fit into every emotion: happiness, sadness, anger, grief, and some of the
most purest forms of joy.”
Each poem is dated by year, and while the tumult of the last few is between the lines, the worlds built by these poems are more personal than a pandemic. In “18:37 (2021),” the speaker muses on the strange soft collection inside us, but recognizes that “my body is very kind to me./it knows my mind and my heart well./they get water together during the day and/chat about how to protect me throughout it.” The journey of the self involves making peace with it, traveling alongside it. “To feel something beautiful,” she writes, “is to feel everything twisted.”
Above all, Capsule is a collection that believes in itself, a singer winding down the road as her songs wind down the page. A collection of someone who has the great gift of celebrating herself.