Akua Lezli Hope

County: Steuben

Artistic Area: Literature/Poetry

Project Title: Creating Speculative, AfroFuturist, Pastoral Poetry

Project Summary: Writing, presenting and disseminating 36 to 48 speculative, Afrofuturist, pastoral poems during 2022.

Website: akualezlihope.com

Work Statement Excerpt: “I exist at the intersection of poetry and the speculative, technoculture and the pastoral, the African diasporic future and the resistant present. I want to create work that interrogates these localities; finds where they cohere and coexist; and write from these conjunctions, as they coexist for me.”

Work Sample:

As Yemayaah

when i was paralyzed
my two legs felt as one,
sparking something that began below my waist.
disconnected from my will, they floated on their own
in a sea of perception, embraced everywhere
sensate and sinuous.

i swam up from brokenness
into dream, darting in three dimensions
as unafraid of up as down, as skillful with left as right,
my great lungs fill with air
my long arms strengthen with each sure stroke
as I plunge toward my sister,
pink and black leatherback, who does not blink
as we match motions and dance

and all around me, light
from water-crossing foremothers
who did not fly, but swam and sang
across hidden valleys and buried mountains
as humpbacks do, all around the globe
at once, in a chorus of continuance, history sharing

like right whales, who survived their holocaust,
carry memory for hundreds of years,
outlive generations of miscreants and murderers
unforgotten wounds now mere tattoos and testament
to what endures, and they told me, though land forsakes,
consigns me to the chair, wheels me in the corner

beyond the edge, water buoys and welcomes
and her wide-board crinolined flippers gleam
in dusk, sparkle at dawn, flare at midday,
beckon remembrance, as she sirens return.