What does genre mean to you and how does it build/unbuild your work?

One of the things I love most about poetry is the way it allows one to be free-flowing from the creator’s mouth to the listeners’ ears. One poem can mean many different things to many different people.

When I think about “genre”, I think about boxes, categories, and labels. Though necessary for organizational purposes, they can be unnecessarily exclusive.

I’ve always been a lover of Sci-Fi/ Fantasy and as a young reader, I struggled to find reflections of myself in the stories I loved. It wasn’t until I found a tribe of folx  like me, who wondered about the stars, made connections between our identities, ideas, and lineages and dared to ponder what being black would or could look like in the future that I was able to start shifting my work beyond the “genre” of poetry that is expected of folx who look like me.

Boxes, labels, rules, and genres are, in my opinion, meant to be bent, broken, and rearranged. As an artist, activist, and as a human with a right to self-determination, shattering all of the above is a welcomed challenge.


Asantewaa Boykin is a proud native of San Diego, CA. She is the daughter of Valerie Boykin and the granddaughter of Bertha Brandy. Both women taught Asantewaa that family and community are not only important, but truly the backbone of our survival. Asantewaa has always harnessed the spirit of rebellion. As a poet, she’s written daring pieces that challenge her audiences’ thought processes. As a designer, she has applied her love for both artistic expression and resistance.

As an activist, she’s bravely confronted injustice — both in the streets and in the healthcare system where she works as a Registered Nurse specializing in mental health and emergency medicine. She began her journey into activism in San Diego where she worked with the “Feed The People” movement. After moving to Oakland, CA, the place of her mother’s birth, she became a founding member of the O.N.Y.X Organizing Committee. O.N.Y.X was active and prominent in the struggle to achieve justice for Oscar Grant. Asantewaa later co-founded The Anti Police-Terror Project, a multi-generational, multi-ethnic organization committed to the eradication of police terror. As a co-founder of APTP, she co-chairs the First Responder Committee, creating models for independent investigation of police terror and establishing long-term support for impacted families. She uses her knowledge of nursing and activism to provide Street Medic training for direct actions and community training on Trauma Centered First -Aid. Her highest and greatest honor is being the mother of her three-year-old son, Ajani and her bonus daughter Aryana.