When fog rises over the Chemung river
and dances up the hillsides
Fog pilfers the unanchored,
collects untethered songs.
Nameless piano tunes roll along
in the dark of its impermeable light.
The wriggling shapes of lost streets ascend
green hillocks—the small city
becoming undone, and resurrected.
Labyrinths emerged on three slopes
above Big Flats where lost streets sought
their forgotten shapes. They tangled,
forming figure eights.
By a stroke of deep invention,
city stewards proposed a solution:
name all the alleys, deem them lanes.
They were my private walkways
where crows shouted and shadowed me,
where squirrel highways became visible,
where worlds unfurled on ribbons of light
and, thus weighted and bound
with words, held in place, tied down,
forever moored my wayward Brigadoon.
— Akua Lezli Hope
Akua Lezli Hope is a creator who uses sound, words, fiber, glass, and metal to create poems, patterns, stories, music, wearables, sculpture, adornments and peace whenever possible. She has won two Artists Fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, a Ragdale U.S.-Africa Fellowship, a Creative Writing Fellowship from The National Endowment for The Arts and the Walker Foundation Scholarship to Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center. She was a Cave Canem fellow. She received an Artists Crossroads Grant from The Arts of the Southern Finger Lakes for her project “Words in Motion,” which placed poetry on the buses of New York’s Chemung and Steuben counties.
Her manuscript, Them Gone, won the Red Paint Hill Publishing’s Editor’s Prize and will be published in 2016. She won the Science Fiction Poetry Association’s 2015 short poem award. Her first collection, EMBOUCHURE, Poems on Jazz and Other Musics, won the Writer’s Digest book award for poetry.
Notable publications include: The 100 Best African American Poems; Too Much Boogie, Erotic Remixes of the Dirty Blues; Dark Matter, (the first!) anthology of African American Science Fiction and Erotique Noire, the first anthology of black erotica among many other journals.
She led the Voices of Fire Reading Choir from 1987 to 1999. Akua has given hundreds of readings to audiences in colleges, prisons, parks, museums, libraries and bars. A crochet designer, she has published more than 100 patterns. Her interest is in the freeform and the figurative—with a collection of scifi hats. She is an avid hand papermaker, who also loves to sing and play her saxes. A paraplegic, she has founded a paratransit nonprofit so that she and others may get around in her small town.