A Note from Rachel Levitsky
Then I command the stage again, as embodied activism this time a gone time
from a before then if so therefore without pretense this phrase, this constituent,
this color lily I’ve never seen before a calculated blue.
(from The Putterers Notebook)
We have just learned that our beloved friend, poet, teacher, performer, activist, mother, sister, Akilah Oliver passed away in her home in the Fort Greene section of Brooklyn, N.Y.
Akilah Oliver was born in 1961 in L.A. In the 1990’s she founded and performed with the feminist performance collective Sacred Naked Nature Girls. For several years, Akilah lived and raised her son Oluchi McDonald (1982-2003) in Boulder, Colorado where she was a teacher at Naropa University’s Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics. Recently, in New York City, Akilah taught poetry and writing at Eugene Lang College, The New School, Pratt Insitute and The Poetry Project. She was a PhD candidate at The European Graduate School and a member of the Belladonna* Collaborative.
Akilah Oliver’s books include A Toast In The House of Friends (Coffee House 2009) the she said dialogues: flesh memory, a book of experimental prose poetry honored by the PEN American Center’s “Open Book” program, and the chapbooks An Arriving Guard of Angels, Thusly Coming to Greet (Farfalla, McMillan & Parrish, 2004), The Putterer’s Notebook (Belladonna 2006), “a(A)ugust” (Yo-Yo Labs, 2007) and A Collection of Objects (Tente 2010). She read and performed her work throughout the country as a solo artist and with a variety of musicians and collaborators including Tyler Burba, Anne Waldman and Rasul Siddik. She was a artist in residence at Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center in Los Angeles, and received grants from the California Arts Council, The Flintridge Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation. Among her many other projects, she was writing a book-length theory of lamentation.
Information about services and memorial will be forthcoming.
Rachel Levitsky is the founder and co-director of Belladonna*, an event and publication series of feminist avant-garde poetics. Her latest book of poetry is Neighbor (2009, Ugly Duckling Presse).
An excerpt from A Toast in the House of Friends by Akilah Oliver (2008)
often now when i imagine life i think of what should
be finite, the guise of limitability, the desire for stop
are there greeters there [are you one] when we former ghosts arrive
is this sea deceptive, as if alive or an actor, the world masked
in my own way there was a time when i stumbled over a tense: says/said
now, bereft, in anticipation of how night collapses
into its own effluence i conjugate occasions, ask just for time, just a little time,
to get love right