Fiction


The Young Phillis Wheatley ( Toronto: KidsCan Press, 2009).
The Young Henry Bibb (Toronto: KidsCan Press, 2009).

Poet Afua Cooper draws from her wide knowledge of history – personal and monumental – to evoke the ancestors, vistas of her childhood, memories of family and powerful passion in this new book of poetry, Copper Woman. The colour red appears in many forms – energy, passion, blood, violence, love, fire, lightning storm, rage and roses. Like the red-brown metal, copper, Cooper’s poetry is malleable in each stage of her journey manifested in the five sections of the book –Bird of Paradise, Copper Woman, Biography, Africa Wailin, and Black Madonna. The poems capture her thoughts on the divine feminine and her belief that sexuality can be intensely spiritual and therefore has healing potential.


With her poet’s sensibility, Afua Cooper describes the embattled life and trial of Marie-Joseph Angélique… Cooper connects Angélique’s fate with the wide world of Atlantic, American, and Canadian slavery, and with the intimate world of the household where Angélique worked. An enthralling and important tale.”
Natalie Zemon Davis. author of The Return of Martin Guerre and Slaves on Screen

” The most important piece of Canadian history written in decades, Afua Cooper’s The Hanging of Angélique shakes the earth beneath the Canadian nation story. Thorough, original, and masterful, this book is a stunning reclamation of one woman’s life, but it is also a reclamation of Africans in early North American history. Trenchant and engagingly written, this book is brilliant.”
Dionne Brand, Award-winning poet and novelist. Author of What We All Long For and A Map to the Door of No Return

Cooper is to be congratulated for long, careful and thoroughly engaged research and passionate, engaging writing.
–Michel Basilieres, Author of Black Bird

Read Review -“Afua Cooper a fitting Copper Woman – July 21, 2006…”
Read Review – The Chronicle Herald – August 13, 2006
Read Review – JamaicaStar.com, “Double launch for Afua Cooper” – August 29, 2006

Exhibits


Exhibits
A Glimpse of Black Life in Victorian Toronto: 1850-1860, 2002.
The Underground Railroad, Next Stop: Freedom, 2002.
Paths to Freedom: The Josiah Henson Story, 2006.
Enslaved Africans in Upper Canada (Consultant), Archives of Ontario, 2007.
1858-2008: A Photo History of Black People in British Columbia, 2009.

Discography


Discography
Sunshine (Toronto: Maya Music, 1988).
Worlds of Fire (Toronto: Soundmind Production, 2002).
Love and Revolution (Soundmind, 2009).

Historical Works


Historical Works
The Hanging of Angélique, The Untold Story of Canadian Slavery and the Burning of Old Montréal (Toronto: HarperCollins, 2006).
The Underground Railroad, Next Stop: Toronto (Toronto: Natural Heritage Books, 2002).
We’re Rooted here and They Can’t Pull Us Up: Essays in African Canadian Women’s History (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1994; reprint 1999). Winner of the Joseph Brant Award for History.

Poetry


Poetry
Breaking Chains (Toronto: Weelahs Publications, 1983).
Red Caterpillar on College Street (Toronto: Sister Vision Press, 1989).
Memories Have Tongue [Casa de las Americans Finalist] (Toronto: Sister Vision Press, 1992).
Utterances and Incantations; Women, Poetry, and Dub (Toronto: Sister Vision Press, 1999).
Copper Woman (Toronto: Natural Heritage Books, 2006).

Making Love in Lotus Pose

At the line that separates night from day
at the time when dawn begin its stride
over the horizon
accompanied by the fizzle of the stars
as they shoot across the sky
and the shouts of the fishermen
as they bring in their first catch
followed by the drone of the bus on the road
the last crow of the cock
I slip from sleep
and awake to the insistence of your lips on my skin
as you sip from the cup of my thousand-petalled lotus
Gold and rose
the colours of the dream I had

In another time and place
you would have been king
or at least a general in his army
the purple of the morning enfolds us
as we perform this ancient rite
I slip from sleep
and awake to the insistence of your lips on my skin
as you dip into the cup of my thousand-petalled lotus

gold and rose
misty blue and violets too
turquoise and scarlet
breath and air
fire and lightning
thunder and storm
riddim and wail
shooting stars
surging waves
life and death
a million magenta moons exploding
aaah

If not a general in the king’s army
then the principal dancer in the queen’s troupe

 

 

Africa Wailin

Stereo-Prophet trow down
at Bathurst and Bloor
an di dj bawl out
“ yes, crowd a people
mi seh mi love unu”

Africa wailin
as Stereo-Prophet trow dung
inna downtown
at Tequila
an 300 sing as one
sing along wid the dj
sing along wid the singers
wid Sizzla an June Lodge
an Gregory, Tony Rebel,
I love you like fresh vegetable

Africa wailin
as Toronto get hot
an Black people dance
communally
heads up
backs arched
eyes watchin
a far away scene
hands boxin
di air
an feet an hips move
inna kumina, nyahbinghi
as 300 dance together as one

An woman wid dem man rent a tile
body love for a while
love sweet like the waters of the Blue Nile
rub a dub inna different style

An di man wid di hangle
conneck wid di triangle
an di dj leap in di air
a Tutsi dancer
as fire fire
from the Spear
lick him inna him head
an him grab a second mike
hole both a dem a him mouth
an him an Garnet Silk start fi chant it out
Hello Mama Africa
How are you
I’m feeling fine and I hope you’re fine too

Woman in weave, red
gole, and green
dread wid locks down to dem feet
we all hold hands as we embark
on a journey
as we cross di passage
wid Freddie inna big ship
and Marcia is troddin us to Mt. Zian
for a healin an baptizam

An we help each other as we begin dis passage
weak an tattered
cold and afraid
packed together like sardines in a tin
Lady Saw is embarkin
as Oshun
Burning Spear, di griot from Kangaba
Do you remember the days of slavery
do you remember
Rita Marely an exiled priestess from Kumasi
will start a new world religion
an we love each other
we gentle wid each other
as we continue di journey

An Africa still wailin
an we still crossin
no jobs here in babylon
is jus pure batterayshan
our men led like sheep into prison
an ours sons lost in whiteness

Africa still wailin
for her children
scattered on white shores
wanderin in di trangle
tryin to find their way home

Woman in red, green, and gold weave
an dread wid locks down to their feet
women in shiny shiny clothes
tight like rass
an men in basic black
wid nuff bling bling
confess their love to each other
as we sing wid the dj
an the singers
songs etched in our memory
songs that live
at the tip of our tongue
songs like
When I see you around a corner
you make me feel like a sweepstake winner
an we look down the street
and see two peace car park
watchin I n I
Ready fi caas shackles pon we again
chains roun wi neck
chains roun wi waists
chains round wi ankles
chains round wi writst
an as wi fling rockstone
inna Babylon bone
while Africa is still wailin
wailin
wailin
wailin

Copper Woman
(La Mujer de Cobre)

I sit and wait for you
in this long black night
on a slope of this Sierra Maestra
I hear the sound of the sea;
I tell it to guide you to me
the night is cold
I cover myself with the red silk shawl
you gave me when we first wedded each other
I shelter our love in my womb
protecting it from
the threat of capture
of being hounded by dogs
of being beaten, killed
or sold, or strangled
of being castrated
I shiver in the dark cold air
when will you come?

I sense your presence, I smell you
your sweat
your breath
your sex
the moon glides from beneath a forgiving cloud
and the light illuminates the bracelets
on my wrists
copper and brass
I remember when you courted me
you laughingly promised to build for me
a palace of brass
but instead gave me a dozen bangles to adorn my arms
Our women wear copper for love
or to draw the poison from the blood
to heal the joints and make them supple

You turn a corner, I stay in the shadow, still unsure
You softly call me by the nickname you gave me
“ my copper woman,”
we had agreed on this rendezvous
you take the bancra from your head
and lay this bounty at my feet
roasted breadfruit, dried fish
parched corn, yams,
cassava bread, and an assortment of fruits
You also present me a jug of ginger beer
and a whole side of goat, roasted

I am thankful for the food
but even more grateful to see you
you had gone for days
gone from our mountain hide-out
to trade on the plantation below

Feeling safe now, you play with the bracelet on my wrists
telling me what kind of copper each one is made of
the moonlight also illumines our complexion
we have the same kind of ebony
we rub our wrists together
and I feel the sweetness in my lower abdomen

I hold you close to my belly
and find comfort in the regular rhythm of your breath
I rib my nipples against your chest
and you run your fingers along my spine
unknotting the fear
your kiss is warm honey
This moment is perfect and complete
our love will go from everlasting to everlasting


Negro Cemeteries

‘Negro’ cemeteries are surfacing all over Ontario
ancestors rolling over
bones creaking
skeletons dusting themselves off
dry bones shaking in fields of corn

A man walks on his farm
the morning after a thunder storm
see broken headstones a push troo di earth
he rub di mud off
see the inscriptions
like hieroglyphics
reveal names, dates, ancestry
the local museum seh
is an old ‘Negro’ cemetery
All over Ontario
‘ Negro’ cemeteries are surfacing
ancestors rolling over
from the fur-trader to the loyalist to the mariner from Dominica
demanding we remember them
insisting we reveal their history
All over Ontario
ancestors are rolling over
appearing in potato fields
appearing in fields of corn
appearing in wheat fields

Like Osiris ancestors burst from the earth
in green resurrection
African skeletons shaking the dust from their bones
skulls with rattling teeth
reciting litanies of ancient woes
tongues spouting where none existed before
speaking in funereal language
Griots rising from graves
recounting the stories of their journeys
hafiz tongues uncleaving
reciting surahs of the dawn
babalawos emerging from the storm
divining with their shells and stones
drummers advancing
playing the talking drums
the bata drum
the djembe
the kete and funde
sending messages across this land

Loas coming out of their secret place
and break the shackles of their confinement
Papa Damballah hissed his displeasure at his long internment
Ogun squats, ready with his cutlass
he sniffs the air, scenting signs*

Toussaint rising from his dungeon tomb
prophesying blood and fire

And a woman named Dorinda sits on her tomb
a pipe smoking from between her lips
as she recites and recites and recites the stories of her many passages
the stories of her many transformations

* Damballah and Ogun are deities from the Voudou pantheon