Poetry by Akua Lezli Hope

Them Gone by poet and artist Akua Lezli Hope, to be published by D.C. based press, The Word Works (ISBN 978-1-944585-25-9), is  a collection of elegiac poetry, concerned with memory and remembering beloveds, personal and tribal history, and the influential departed.

There are poems in and out of forms, poems that roam from the South Bronx to the West Indies, to Paris, poems that reflect being the grandchild of immigrants to America. The poems consider being at once inculcated and distant from the over culture. There is a song to be sung about the efforts and experiences of those dreamers and strivers, the fruits and the failures of their endeavors. There is nostalgia for “les temps perdu, the myth and the magic of a youth spent growing up in the world’s great megalopolis. 

Within the mourning there is celebration, an acknowledgment of the joys and glory as well as the pain. Here too, is witness-bearing to two generations of hardworking, deep-loving, women and men.

Akua Lezli Hope says, “I’m so grateful to have been selected. THEM GONE is about love and remembrance. My parents were the children of emigrants from two islands in the Caribbean, Jamaica and Montserrat. They grew up within 4 blocks of each other in the mythic days of Harlem. I spent the first six weeks of my life in my grandmother’s top dresser drawer and learned my first life and math lessons in her store. My father grew up two flights down from the poet Countee Cullen, who was his teacher in junior high school. So there’s a history of struggle and creativity that I want to convey.” 

THEM GONE was a finalist in Word Works 2015 Washington Prize competition. “But nothing beats being selected to be published, to join in the great conversation and represent my ancestors,” says Akua Lezli Hope. Her awards include a Creative Writing Fellowship from The National Endowment for The Arts, two Artists Fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, a Ragdale U.S.-Africa Fellowship, Hurston-Wright writers fellowship, and the Walker Foundation Scholarship to Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center. She is 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 first collection, EMBOUCHURE, Poems on Jazz and Other Musics, won the Writer's Digest book award for poetry. 


"THEM GONE is certainly on target. Dancing on Daddy’s Shoes is a gem, as are so many others…

Thank you so very much for sharing the remembrance of love past and the joy of future youngsters. A wonderful read."

Nikki Giovanni, renowned, NYT best-selling, Grammy nominated, award-winning poet, writer, and distinguished professor at Virginia Tech

"Akua Lezli Hope's voice, with its refreshing mixture of depth, insight, elegance, breathes life into memory, roots, tradition, and the immediacy of time and place. In her heart, she is a Daddy's girl. Nothing is more important in her glistening volume, Them Gone, than family, friends, everything Gallic and Gotham, the amber glow of creativity, and the bittersweet essence of loss and grief. Whether Akua writes of poets Ted Joans and Jayne Cortez or artists Bob Thompson and Elizabeth Catlett, or tigress Eartha Kitt or firebrand Rosa Parks, she celebrates their lives, achievements, and impact on society. Sometimes humorous, often sober, her deepening vision can be intensely philosophical. There are few poets writing today whose work is at once personal and visionary. Yes, the wait is over. It's a thrill to watch her perform her unique magic."

Robert Fleming, author and editor (The Wisdom of the Elders, Havoc After Dark, Fever In The Blood, and After Hours)

"Them Gone is a homegoing of homegirl reminiscence, a family reunion in verse and sound that sings a personal and public history alive and into our hands. Akua Lezli Hope's poems recount journeys from South Africa to Paris to Jamaica to New York and parts between, leading us on a Black woman's story, seasoned with poignant observation and a wise-worn search for truth. Wade into the wave of these pages and emerge transported to new, glimmered shores of universal truth!"

Tyehimba Jess,

Author of Leadbelly and Olio


A Book Party will be held Sunday, March 25, 2018 at 171 Cedar Arts Center, 171 Cedar Street, Corning, NY from 2:00 to 4:30 p.m., weather permitting.