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Naki Akrobettoe: A Poetress Who Heals the Soul

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Naki AkrobettoeNaki Akrobettoe is a poet, performer, teacher, mother, and much more. Immersed in Ghanian culture, something she believes was integral to who she was as a person, establishing her own identity, Akrobettoe chose to live her life to the fullest. Her poetry has moved many; among her greatest poems is one titled “A Poem that Heals,” something that has great personal connection with her own experiences regarding cancer and death within her family and something she believes many can connect to, is the result of years of immersion in culture and art—modes of communication that have permeated every part of Akrobettoe’s life. Her experiences in the arts began young, when she was just twelve years old, and she continues to pursue her passions to this very day. She believes that she did not choose the art of poetry—it chose her. When she was in middle school, she would go to the library and pull books out of the shelf, and one day, after stumbling upon Langston Hughes, she was officially fully part of that world. His poetry introduced her to the centuries of poetry and writing by various artists, among whom prominent artists such as Patricia Smith, Mark Erwin, etc. continue to be part of Akrobettoe’s reading list. She still continues to discover more and more writers, but will never forget who first brought her to her life’s passion—Langston Hughes.
When she was even younger, people would ask what she aspired to be when she grew up—a question all children have been asked, and to which most answer their lofty dreams—astronaut, firefighter, princess, performing artist. But Akrobettoe never had just one answer. Every time it was something different, something new. As she delved into the world of art, she soon realized that poetry was simply a catalyst or a multitude of opportunities. Whether it’s to be a teacher, become a performer, start a business, etc., poetry has allowed Akrobettoe to dabble in all these industries. She now leads a life jam-packed with twists and turns that have led to a semi-nomadic lifestyle—something she has learned to embrace and thrive upon. Performing has always been a driving force for Akrobettoe. When she walks onto the stage, something changes and she simply becomes a different person, offering the gift of art to everyone listening. Despite being unable to stay home often, Akrobettoe’s children are never left alone—an entire community has come together to support Akrobettoe, true to the phrase: It takes a village to raise a child.
Before she ventured fully into the world, she began at The University of Toledo, under the tutelage of Rane Arroyo—one of her main reasons for entering the university. She began learning from him in her freshman year of college, while part of organizations such as the Black Student Organization, and D.E.E.P., Developing Empowering Enhancing Poets through Poetry, an organization that she began along with fellow poets and artists from within her own dorm room. She remained active on campus, being part of the community she formed by joining a local church, performing at a local shop called The Ground Level, where artists from all over Toledo would come together and be part of a movement. Aside from gaining a formidable reputation simply by joining forces with those who were similar to herself, she endeavored to share her talents at other similar local shops as well as fashion shows and beauty pageants on and off campus, and sitting in on open mics whenever she could. She so fell in love with such gatherings and opportunities to perform and listen that to this day, whenever she has time aside from what she already has on her plate, she ventures out to any nearby open mic events in order to hear new and rising artists and spread inspiration for the arts.
Her passion to share these gifts and use it to serve the greater good was harnessed most capably upon her receiving her B.A. in English from the University of Toledo. She became a writer clinician—a rewarding job in which she had the privilege of forming close relationships with inner city youth and aiming to teach writing exercises that would allow the children to utilize poetry and writing as a tool to harness their voices and be heard. Many of these youth had been through multiple traumatic experiences, and through Akrobettoe’s efforts, they gradually learned to channel their issues and inner conflicts onto paper and create their own art to share with the world. It’s a powerful and rewarding position that keeps giving back. Akrobettoe has had children who hated writing and the idea of poetry upon entering the program, but years later, to the present day, those same children reach out to her just to thank her for introducing them to writing and poetry, a healthy alternative that has saved so many lives. To any aspiring artists, specifically poets and writers, Akrobettoe wholeheartedly believes that to truly be a great writer, one must be a great reader. Works such as Maria Rilke’s A Letter to Young Poets are among the essentials that led Akrobettoe to her success.
Akrobettoe went on to release her own albums, the first one of which was titled PENSTROKES. The name was a play on words; in her poetry, the worlds she created of sensuality and spirituality, all began with her literal penstrokes—scribbles on pieces of paper, eventually becoming a collection of poetry that has touched the hearts of thousands of people.
Soon after, Akrobettoe went on to create yet another masterpiece, an album titled A Timeless Miracle. It was inspired by the place at which Akrobettoe was in her life at that point. In general, Akrobettoe noticed that we humans are drawn to and continue to learn about those who have passed away but have left a legacy with their art—be it writing, music, or dance. After contemplating what she could do to leave behind a legacy for her own children and the children of the new generation, Akrobettoe came to the realization that everything artists aspire to is timelessness, ability to reach out through their art and live beyond their on flesh. Every day is a new opportunity, and every day a person can wake up and contribute this to the world is a miracle. A Timeless Miracle.
 
by Snigdaa Sethuram

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