Asantewaa Boykin’s mother and grandmother worked as care workers. Their careers partially influenced Boykin to follow in their footsteps and become a registered nurse. But her passion for her lied elsewhere.
When she’s not helping patients, Boykin immerses her creative intuition with the use of her pen, escaping the world through a series of poetic expressions.
Within the last decade, Boykin has written many poems detailing some of her life experiences. She recently gathered the confidence to compile her poetry and publish her anthology “Love, Lyric, and Liberation.”
Copies were made available digitally on May 7, but Boykin will have an in-person release party in Sacramento Sunday from 4 pm to 8 pm at The Brickhouse Gallery, 2837 36th Street.
“It was on my bucket list, to write a book and publish it, and it’s happening,” Boykin said. “I’m a little overwhelmed with excitement, joy and pride in myself.”
Boykin said she could remember as early as age 11 how writing became an outlet for her as she navigated life as a military kid in San Diego, surrounded by a mix of “sailors and gangbangers.”
Boykin said writing became her muse, her outlet for dealing with her own or a family member’s mental health challenges. Her compilation book of hers, “Love, Lyric, and Liberation,” is a political analysis of dealing with the environment of the world versus the things she saw in her everyday world.
“We grew up in public housing,” Boykin said. “Writing was like that constant for me when things were fluctuating. Both my parents dealt with mental health issues. My father dealt with substance abuse. So there was a lot of uncertainty.”
Another influence in Boykin’s poetry writing style was her infatuation with hip-hop music. She wanted her poetry from her to emulate some of her favorite songs from her, mirroring a similar cadence in each stanza that felt lyrical to the reader.
Much like hip-hop, Boykin tries to utilize a visual component in her poetry, where the reader can imagine the atmosphere she illustrates in a detailed manner.
Through her literature, Boykin said she slowly works to get Black people closer to self-actualization and liberation.
“I want someone to find the book, read it, and they make more sense to themselves, like they see themselves in the words,” said Boykin. “I hope that someone reads these poems and comes to that conclusion about themselves.”
“Love, Lyric, and Liberation” is an ode to Black people, the culture, hip-hop, and how all of it shaped her upbringing that she now shares with the world.
Some of her literary influences include Elaine Brown, Gil Scot Heron, artist Emory Douglass, and Marcus Garvey.
Boykin said she is in the process of loving herself and her Blackness, simultaneously allowing others to do the same.
“Early in life (being Black) was so complex, especially being dark-skinned and trying to (see) myself as beautiful,” Boykin said. “It’s something that I learned to love. I’ve come to love my people.”
“Love, Lyric, and Liberation” is a collection of poems and essays that reflect on the interconnections of Blackness, femininity, art and resistance.
The book is published by the Nomadic Press, a community-focused literary and arts non-profit publishing company with operations in Oakland, Des Moines, Iowa, and Brooklyn, New York.