Afua Cooper is an eminent and award-winning poet, author, historian, curator, performer, cultural worker, and recording artist. A recent winner of the Harry Jerome Award for Professional Excellence, Afua was also chosen by the editors of Essence Magazine (Oct. 2005) as one of the 25 women who are shaping the world. Afua has been featured in the most recent volume of Contemporary Black Biography: Profiles from the International Black Community from Thomson and Gale. Cooper’s poems have been anthologized in national and international publications, and translated in several languages. She has published five books of poetry, including the award-winning Memories Have Tongue. Her newest book of poetry is Copper Woman, a work in which she attempts to bring together the personal and the political, the exoteric and the esoteric. Her first solo recording Sunshine is as collection of poems for children. Further, her poems have also been anthologized on several recordings including Womantalk, and Mannish Water. Her latest poetry CD is Worlds of Fire: In Motion. A new poetry recording Possessed: Dub Stories will be released in August 2006.
Afua is a dynamic and riveting performer. She has brought her poetry from page to stage in such diverse events as the prestigious Toronto Harbourfront International Reading Series, and Diaspora Dialogues. She has read all across Canada, the Caribbean, the UK, the United States, and West Africa. Known as a proponent of the African-Caribbean poetry genre, Dub poetry, Afua has fused together the scribal, literary, musical, and performative aspects of that artform in her performances. Cooper has worked with such bands as the Gayap Drummers, Juno award winner, Lazo and the Radicals; she now tours with the Dub Trinity Band. Further, she co-hosted and organized three international Dub Poetry Festivals in Toronto (1993, 2004, and 2005).
Afua holds a Ph.D. in history with specialties in slavery, abolition, and women studies. She is one of Canada’s premier experts and chroniclers of the country’s Black past. Dr. Cooper has done ground-breaking work in uncovering the hidden history of Black peoples in Canada. Her most recent history publication The Hanging of Angélique, The Untold Story of Canadian Slavery and the Burning of Old Montréal cogently explores the life and death of Marie-Joseph Angélique, a Portuguese-born Black slave woman who was hanged in Montréal in 1734 for allegedly setting fire to the city. Since its publication in February 2006 Angélique has been reprinted twice; this has resulted in the book becoming a national bestseller. Further, Afua is writing a series of historical novels for the young adult audience. These novels are based on the experiences on enslaved children from the Black Diaspora. For that series, Afua recently completed The Young Phillis Wheatley, a fictionalized account of the life and art of the eighteenth-century Black poet Phillis Wheatley.
Dr. Cooper has taught in the History Department and the Canadian Studies Program at the University of Toronto. She is now an independent scholar and engaged in writing and performing full-time.