Our Spirits Carry Our Voices

In 2016, a group of poets from Oakland, California, embarked on a literary exchange with poets from Accra, Ghana, and Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire. The goal of the exchange was to create healing and reconnection among Africans and African Americans, who have long been separated due to the calamity of slavery and many current socioeconomic factors. We chose to experiment with a form of poetry called renshi, a Japanese genre known as linked or chained poems, in which the poet uses the last line of the partner’s poem as the first line for a new poem. A door was opened! Like digital pen pals, we exchanged poetry for over a year. The result was beyond anyone’s expectations. Real friendships began to blossom. In 2018, just before Ghana commemorated the “Year of Return,” a group of the American poets traveled to Ghana, meeting our exchange partners. This book reflects our process and our journey.

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