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.
Jamaica Kincaid writes, “My mother died at the moment I was born, and so…there was nothing standing between myself and eternity.” If place of origin sources story — and connection to origin has almost been destroyed — a writer has nothing standing between herself and eternity. It is from here that Afua Cooper calls forth remnants of story that still recognize their names: her family and ancestors in Jamaica; African, Greek, Voudou, Egyptian, and Indigenous Caribbean divinities; historical Black Canadian voices of Richard Pierpont and Marie Joseph Angelique; and “Africa wailin/as Toronto get hot/an Black people dance/communally.” Eloquent and visionary, Cooper’s poems are like the fruits and flowers her mother sells in the market: “she does not solicit customers/they come of their own volition.”
–Betsy Warland, poet, and author of Only this Blue and Bloodroot