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Intimate Conversation with author Ashanti L. White

Intimate Conversation with author and poet Ashanti L. White

Ashanti L. White has been writing and performing professionally since the age of sixteen. She graduated from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in 2003 with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and African American Studies with a minor in Philosophy.

She also attained a Masters in Liberal Studies with a Concentration in History and English. Her works have appeared in Timeless Voices, a poetry collection, Black Enterprise, and The Amistad among other publications. The recipient of the Mary J. Hooker Poetry Award, she has performed alongside Oprah Living Legend and Grammy winner, Nikki Giovanni, and Def Poet, J. Ivey and been a spotlight guest for CNN Radio.

Hailed the Zora Neale Hurston of her generation, Ashanti White is an acclaimed author, poet, photographer, and literary critic whose work has appeared in a number of publications, including Mandala Literary Journal, The Amistad, and Callaloo. In addition to her work as Senior Writer/Contributing Editor for DV8 Weekly, she also composes book reviews for Library Journal. Her first novel, Chasing Eden, debuted to positive reviews. Razor Blades Between My Teeth, a poetry collection, will be released in April 2009, and her second novel, And Somehow We Were Happy, will be released in Fall 2009.

Tell us about your passion for writing. Please send a short paragraph describing the book and what you offer the reader. Try to make this information something that is not on your back cover; go deep inside the book and get to the meat of it the story or plot.

Poetry is slowly becoming a forgotten art, but my goal is to revitalize the genre by composing relevant, well-written pieces that tackle universal issues of humanity.

Ella: Finish this sentence: I am Powerful because...
I am Powerful because... I use the gifts of God and the opportunities that my ancestors fought for to entertain, educate, and bridge the valleys that are not so distant…

Ella: Why is it so important to celebrate Black History 365 days a year?
The idea of Black History Month is ridiculous. African American history encompasses English, dance, politics, and anthropology. We can not easily be condensed to 28 days, not after centuries of accomplishments. Our history should be studied in ever subject, everyday so that people, especially our children, will understand the greatest of our strides.

Ella: Where are you from? How did you start your writing journey?
I began writing poetry twelve years ago in Raleigh, NC and began writing professionally ten years ago, when I was 16. I performed and won a scholarship for “The Fight,” a spoken word piece about the struggles and triumphs of Africans in America. I continued performing in college before expanding to short stories and editorials. I completed writing my first novel in 2007 and have since then written two more novels, written for DV8 Magazine, and contributed to numerous publications. I had two poetry collections released in 2003 but Razor Blades Between My Teeth is my first large press poetry publication.

Ella: Ultimately, what do you want readers to gain from your book?
Of course, I want people to be entertained, but I want readers to think and realize that they world is much bigger and much more intricate that what they may see each day. For people who have experienced the things that I write about, I want them to ponder their experiences. I want all readers to dissect the styles and the language, to take something new from the works, to discuss the topics, to be moved or to feel something when they read it. I want them to understand the value of literary arts.

Ella: What advice would you give a new writer?
My advice to a new writer is to read. There is nothing as annoying or discouraging as a writer that proclaims that he does not read. Pick up books by different authors--Toni Morrison, Truman Capote, Toure, Ayn Rand--to understand different styles and to discover your own voice. Reading offers a lesson that cannot fully be taught in a classroom.

Ella: Name 3 things that it takes to make a successful author, in your opinion?
Knowledge of the world
Being well-read
Flexibility of writing styles

Ella: Share with us your latest news, awards or upcoming book releases.
In addition to the upcoming release of Razor Blades Between My Teeth, my second novel, And Somehow We Were Happy, will be released in Fall 2009. I have already completed my third novel, a teen title, Don’t. Speak. that deals with sexual abuse. I will be presenting at the 19th Annual Conference of African American Culture & Experience on Race, Gender, and Politics in April. My review of Ronald Gauthier’s Crescent City Countdown will be featured in Callaloo: A Journal of African Diaspora Arts & Letters, and I am currently a Featured author for Career Writers Association along with the legendary, bell hooks.

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Razor Blades Between My Teeth coming MARCH 2009!
And Somehow We Were Happy coming FALL 2009!

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