Language Lesson

In the absence of a full grief lexicon, Language Lesson is a short study of loss, mortuary rites and survivors' interpretations of these processes. The chapbook collection, inspired by the loss of Jackson's paternal grandmother, is available from MIEL. 

In Language Lesson, Ashaki Jackson writes: "I have trouble naming / this suffering," yet offers a hovering wail. An upward prayer. A drenched silence. A sauntering hymn. The poems hold a luxuriant sadness, as in unhurried, as in decadently expressed, as in all consuming. Jackson artfully makes of sublingual voices a multivalent language, grief as enduring, bodied remembrance as expansive and relentlessly striking as the "s{wept} sky."

– Khadijah Queen, Black Peculiar


Gratitude to Ashaki Jackson’s Language Lessons for allowing me to slow down and sing to our lovely dead, our re-memoried mothers and the rituals of their mothers. In reading, I savor each word and each breath between, each line leading me to the next meditation. Another body to consider with care, even in its breaking.  

– Ching-In Chen, The Heart's Traffic

Ashaki Jackson’s poems unearth a loss so deep, the living left behind commit the sum of their bodies to mourning. In this pact, we realize such an honoring of the dead is much like what is required of reciting poems: our promise of breath propelled by heartbeat, lungs taut with air...In Language Lesson, Jackson rightfully acknowledges the body as more than flesh and blood. In her verse, it is instrument, beacon—sanctuary.  

— Mitchell L. H. Douglas, \blak\ \al-fə bet\