Akua Lezli Hope

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Akua Lezli Hope is an African-American woman artist, poet and writer. A third-generation New Yorker, she was born in Manhattan and grew up in the South Bronx and Queens. She has degrees from Williams College and Columbia University in psychology, journalism, and business. Akua is a talented woman with diverse interests including music. She also sings and plays the saxophone.


She has twice won an Artists Fellowship from the New York Foundation for the Arts (1987, 2003). Her specialities are hand paper-making and crochet design. She has published more than 125 crochet patterns and is a devotee of freeform crochet. Akua Lezli Hope also creates sculpture, objects and jewelry in glass, paper and fiber. In glass she fuses, casts and flameworks.


Her collection, Embouchure, Poems on Jazz and Other Musics, was published by ArtFarm Press in 1995. It won the Writer's Digest 1995 poetry book award. Her work has appeared in numerous literary magazines and in several anthologies, including:

  • Sisterfire, an anthology of Black Womanist fiction and poetry (HarperPerennial)
  • Erotique Noire/Black Erotica (Doubleday/Anchor)
  • Confirmation, an anthology of African-American women writers (Quill/Morrow).

She is a founding member of the Black Writers Union and the New Renaissance Writers Guild. She is an Area Coordinator for Amnesty International.


Hope won a Creative Writing Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts as well as a Ragdale U. S. - Africa Fellowship. She has given over 100 readings to audiences in colleges, prisons, parks, museums, restaurants and bars. She is a founding member of the Black Writers Union and the New Renaissance Writers Guild whose alumni include Baron James Ashanti, Doris Jean Austin, Arthur Flowers and Terry McMillan (Waiting to Exhale, How Stella Got Her Groove Back).

A lifelong science-fiction enthusiast, she has had her sf poetry published in Asimov's Science Fiction magazine and many other publications. Her story "The Becoming" is included in Dark Matter: A Century of Speculative Fiction from the African Diaspora, — named a New York Times notable book, because it was the first anthology of science fiction and fantasy by Black Writers.

Hope was the Area Coordinator for Amnesty International USA in the Southern Tier of New York and also served on Amnesty's Cultural Diversity Resource Group. She served as a staff member of the African American Resource Forum and was Section Leader of the Books and Writers section in the African American Culture Forum and of the African American Verse section in the Poetry Forum on Compuserve Information Service.

Awards and Honors[edit]

  • Iron Horse Review, Photofinish contest winner, 2016.
  • Being Here, semifinalist, Quills Edge Press
  • Red Paint Hill Publishing Bryant-Lysembee Editor’s Prize, 2015
  • Short Poem Winner, Science Fiction Poetry Association, 2015
  • Finalist, Washington Prize Word Works Poetry Competition, 2015
  • Walker Foundation Scholarship to Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center, 2005
  • Cave Canem Fellow, 2002-2004
  • Two Voices/Two Pages Winner, Geva Theater 2004
  • New York Foundation for the Arts Poetry Fellowship, 2003
  • Artists Crossroads Grant, The Arts Council of the Southern Finger Lakes, 2003
  • Awardee in the Nonrhyming Poetry Writer's Digest annual competition, 2002
  • Honorable Mention, The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror (2000) edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling: for "The Becoming" in Dark Matter: A Century of Speculative Fiction from the African Diaspora
  • Artist-in-Residence, Women’s Studio Workshop, 2001
  • Fellowship, Hurston-Wright Writers’ Week, 2001
  • Poet-in-Residence, Chautauqua Institution, 1997
  • Writer's Digest Book Awards, 1996
  • Ragdale U.S.–Africa Fellowship, 1993
  • Finalist, 1991 Open Voice competition
  • National Endowment of the Arts Creative Writing Fellowship, 1990
  • Finalist, Barnard New Women Poets Series -1990
  • Finalist, MacDonald's Black Literary Achievement Award, 1989
  • New York Foundation for the Arts Poetry Fellowship, 1987
  • Finalist, Walt Whitman Award, Spring 1983
  • Sterling Brown Award, Williams College, Spring 1975


Recent publications
  • "THEM GONE", June 1, 2018, THE WORD WORKS, ISBN 978-1-944585-25-9
  • "Memorial", poem, New Verse News, May 2018
  • "AGAIN, A GUN", poem, New Verse News, April 11, 2018
  • "The Kids Are Alright", poem, New Verse News, March 1, 2018
  • "His Seed", "How I loved It", poems, Starline 41.1, Winter 2018, SFPA
  • "near visible realms", poem, Scifaikuest, November 2017. Print edition
  • "INK", poem, Rhysling Anthology 2016, 2017, ISBN 978-1544713403
  • "Slow Drag", poem, Riddled with Arrows, June 20, 2017, ed. Shannon Connor Winward
  • "SKATE", short story, Open Minds, ed. Casia Shreyer, June 2017, ISBN 1988853001
  • "You’ve Become Unsafe Ground", poem, Breath and Shadow, Spring 2017, ed. Chris Kuell
  • "Mommy’s Arias", poem, April 29, NationalPoetryMonth.ca (AngelHousePress, 2017)
  • "Who", poem, New Verse News www.newversenews.com Monday, April 10, 2017
  • "Old Flame", poem, Sexuality Anthology, ed. Michael Czarnecki, The Arts of the Southern Finger Lakes/Foothills Press, March 2017
  • "Cassandra", poem, Andromeda Spaceways #66, March 2017
  • "Dragon", poem, Faerie Magazine, Spring 2017 Mary McMyne, poetry editor
  • "Fixing Face", "Tax Deadline", "Reminiscence", poems, Revise the Psalm: Work Celebrating the Writing of Gwendolyn Brooks, ed. Sandra Jackson-Opoku and Quraysh Lansana, February 2017, ISBN 978-1940430867
  • "River Road", poem, The Fourth River, MFA program in Creative Writing at Chatham University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, February 8, 2017
  • "Routine", "I Fly Into Your Indifference", and "Dentist Visit", poems, Best of Breath and Shadow Anthology, December 2016, ISBN 978-1541266407
  • "Resignation", poem, The Font Journal Volume II, 2016
  • "Warning", winning poem, Ironhorse Review, Photofinish Contest winner December 31, 2016
  • "Betty Carter", poem, The Poeming Pigeon: poems about music, Vol. 2. No. 2, November 2016
  • "Ink", poem, Yellow Chair Review, Horror Issue, October 2016
  • "Mysticeti", poem, Eye to the Telescope #22, The Science Fiction Online Journal of Speculative Poetry, October 15, 2016, Ghosts, ed. Shannon Connor Winward
  • "Before Us", poem, The Crafty Poet II: A Portable Workshop, ed. Diane Lockward, Terrapin Books, September 2016
  • "Standing Rock Resistance", poem, The New Verse News, September 22, 2016
  • "My PTSD or 558 and counting", poem, The New Verse News 7/25/2016
  • "Health Care", poem, Close Encounters with One’s Own Femininity
  • "Domesstick", poem, Rock the Chair Winner, Yellow Chair, June 12, 2016
  • "4 70", poem, The News Verse News, June 8, 2016
  • "Endangered", poem, Rattle, Poets Respond winner, June 5, 2016
  • "Komagatu Maru", poem, The News Verse News, May 26, 2016
  • "Sisko", poem, The Cossack Review Number 6, April 2016
  • "Carriage", poem, The Doll Collection, Terrapin Books, ed. Diane Lockward, Spring 2016, ISBN 978-0996987103
  • "Eating Verse", poem, Strange Horizons, April 2016
  • "Lost Streets", poem, Silver Blade, Winter 2016, February 23, 2016
  • "Departures", microfiction, Tiny Text, February 22, 2016
  • "Incubation", microfiction, Tiny Text, January 25, 2016
  • "Noragami", poem, Eye to the Telescope, January 15, 2016
  • "Mouse Song", "Waking Daddy", "Hubble 25", poems, Gyroscope Review, January 1, 2016



In 2005 she was stricken with transverse myelitis, a rare idiopathic auto-immune disease, and became a paraplegic.