We had the good fortune of connecting with Akusua Akoto and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Akusua, how has your background shaped the person you are today?
I’m originally from Dallas, specifically South Oak Cliff, an impoverished part of town. I lost my dad to cancer and watched my mother battle her demons and mental illness. Due to the neglect growing up, I took care of myself and my mother for most of my life. I was alone growing up, so creative writing and journaling was my outlet. I have gained tremendous insight and courage in my later years. I’m working on my inner wounds through therapy and mindfulness. Being a writer has given me the clarity to see my life for what it is and what it can be.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Mother’s Dance # 1
Mother does not want to dance alone
she’s trying to bring you into the music
of her tears
Her mouth is bleeding in the center of this prayer
In her dance there is no water
she stumbles for her father
but her hands
and in her plea for salvation
she is naked
as hands touch her
she knows she will be raped
again under the Lord’s prayer.
Copyright Akusua Akoto, 2020
Currently, I am working on two manuscripts of poetry. The first manuscript, ‘The Sanitorium Scriptures’ looks at three generations of Black Womanhood through the lenses of poverty, madness, God and survival. I started working on this manuscript while a student at University of New Mexico. Writing poetry about my family is a way I can make sense to myself. Because I wasn’t believed growing up, writing poetry takes all those fragmented snapshots of my life and turns it into something powerful. My second manuscript looks at the state of the world, specifically police violence. I was very inspired by the avant garde music of Diamanda Galas. I am very moved by theatre and music and wanted my poetry to reflect that. I started in Albuquerque as a spoken word poet for the open mic monthly event called Speak, Poet ! Soon, I was getting features. The challenges for me were organizing the events for my work. It wasn’t easy and it’s one of the reasons why I relocated to Denver. One of the lessons I’ve learned along the way is learn when to let go and walk away.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I normally don’t eat out, so we would make it an adventure exploring places to go and things to do.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Hillary Leftwich I owe you so much gratitude for the opportunities you have shared with me. I am humbled that you believe in my work as much as you do. You are a gifted writer and editor but more importantly an extraordinarily good friend. Andrea Serrano and the Speak Poet community of Albuquerque, NM I owe you so much gratitude for giving a newbie like myself a voice. I felt like I was apart of a community for the first time. Mary A. Putman/The Reciprocity Collective is a non profit that ‘seeks and fosters partnerships between the business and nonprofit communities to respectfully and effectively guide individuals from communities of poverty and homelessness forward in sustainable employment, purpose and health.’ Mary, thank you so much for your kindness and generosity even when you are moving mountains with your nonprofit.
1. Mary A. Putman 2-4. Akusua A. Akoto