54 Poets from Africa to America.
West Oakland to West Africa (WO2WA) provides a sustained exchange to connect members of the African Diaspora and Africa through creative writing. Our core values are to create a safe place for the transparent healing and growth of Black people; to deliver innovative and authentic forms of writing and to engage the medium of spoken word to shape and define the narratives of the Diaspora; to allow a visceral and uncensored critique of social systems through artistic expression. Our goal is to facilitate Sankofa, a return to retrieve what has been forgotten or lost. By doing so, we hope to continue to promote Afrocentric approaches to international and cross-cultural relationships that support holistic partnerships between Americans and the world around us. — Karla Brundage
The anthology is a culmination of workshops in Africa and America featuring 54 poets from Africa to America, include shared experiences of foreigner/returnee, neo-African, borrower of phrases, and experimenter of styles that shape-and will continue to shape-the vibrant exchange between Africa and the Diaspora. Poetry is an artistic vehicle that allows this to happen with humility and pride; honesty and fear strive for a way to establish a meaningful dialogue after centuries of separation. — Rashidah Ismaili
Founder Karla Brundage, conceived of the West Oakland to West Africa organization while living and working in West Africa from 2013-2016. As an African-American woman, she established West Oakland to West Africa with the mission of providing a connection to Africa for African-Americans, using poetry as a healing technology to traverse borders spiritually, if not physically. West Africa Poetry Exchange (WO2WA), which has facilitated cross-cultural exchange between Oakland and West African poets and the publication of three books Our Spirits Carry Our Voices, Sisters Across Oceans and the upcoming Black Rootedness collection. She has edited four collections including Oakland Out Loud (2007) and Words Upon the Waters (2006) both by Jukebox Press. Her poetry book, Swallowing Watermelons, was published by Ishmael Reed Publishing Company in 2006. A Bay Area based poet, activist, and educator with a passion for social justice. Born in Berkeley, California in the summer of love to a Black mother and white father, Karla spent most of her childhood in Hawaii where she developed a deep love of nature. Her musical loves include Hawaiian, West African, and Hip Hop sounds.
Contributor’s Prior Work
She is a Pushcart Prize nominee, Fulbright teacher and author of two books of poetry, Swallowing Watermelons and Mulatta- Not so Tragic which was co-authored with Allison Francis. She has performed her work onstage and online, both nationally and internationally. Her poetry, short stories and essays can be found in Konch, Hip Mama, sPARKLE & bLINK, Bamboo Ridge Press, Vibe. Her work can be found at westoaklandtowestafrica.com as well as at karlabrundage.com