Art on the Underground Staff Writer in Residence 2023

Anthony Okolie

Art on the Underground Staff Writer in Residence 2023.

‘DESCEND and DISSENT’ is the first release from the Art on the Underground Writer in Residence Anthony Okolie. Inspired by Declaration of Independence by Barby Asante which launched in September 2023 with a performance at Stratford station.

The Art on the Underground Writer in Residence is a programme for a TfL staff member to develop their writing by working with Art on the Underground.

The Writer in Residence programme will highlight and amplify the creative voices within TfL, creating engaging responses to Art on the Underground artists and artworks throughout 2023.


Anthony said: As a captivated spectator of Barby Asante’s Declaration of Independence performance, I was quite simply overwhelmed with inspiration.

The strong message invoked a powerful image of my ascendants sharing their collective anguish on the streets I proudly call home.

The words and atmosphere conjured by the performance resonated with me, and I also detected a distinct tone of triumph that stirred my creativity. 

As times have changed, the voices of the oppressed has grown louder. Wisdom and understanding have broken down some of the social barriers that stand between equality and diversity.

My poem is a reflection and representation of the hope for a better world that never died.



Sitting under the sun’s ray, a hopeful day,

While softly, my doubts are cast away;

One-by-one they fall, surely but slow,

Tears don’t flow like a weeping willow;

Who will take heed of my silent cry?

Who else if not me, myself or I?

Before it was written it was perceived as a vision,

An elaborate concept of unified division,

They don’t want to listen so they can never see,

Live in a prison or choose to be free,

We spend our lives blind to inevitability,

Accepting inequalities when they say it’s a democracy,

They bar the horizon they can approach at a meander;

Despite what you read, it’s all propaganda,

When will you breathe? Just seek to find the answer,

The phoenix can rise without a pyromancer,

Oh, my faith can still transcend,

And so, I cannot lose before I ascend,

The time is still now, where brave souls make amends,

Collectively bargained between enemies and friends.