Branches of the Tree of Life

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The Collected Poems of Abiodun Oyewole, 1969-2013
Introduction by Betty J. Dopson
Edited by Gabrielle David
SEPT. 2014 | ISBN-13: 978-1-940939-04-9 (eBook)
LCCN: 2013953940



SKU: BOTTOL052014 Categories: , , Tags: , , , , , , , Product ID: 5040


BRANCHES OF THE TREE OF LIFE is the first comprehensive volume of poems by Abiodun Oyewole, many of them never before published. Oyewole’s poems are powerful, often political, always lyrical and profoundly moving. Over the course of his forty year career and his long affiliation with The Last Poets, Oyewole is one of several poets credited for liberating American poetry by creating open, vocal, spontaneous, energetic and uncensored vernacular verse that paved the way for spoken word and Hip Hop. Using the spiritual, the sacred and the mystical, Oyewole often turns to the tree as a symbol of change and growth. His poetry re-branches into different directions, becoming grandeur in its proportions, and more complexly diversified in its structure. BRANCHES OF THE TREE OF LIFE is a living testament to a stunning career that confirms Abiodun Oyewole’s place at the forefront of poetic achievement. Cover Art and Photo: Vagabond.

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Author Bio


ABIODUN OYEWOLE is a poet, teacher, and founding member of the American music and spoken-word group, the Last Poets (1968), which laid the groundwork for the emergence of hip hop. He performed on the Last Poets’ albums, The Last Poets (1970), Holy Terror (1993), and The Time Has Come (1997). He rejoined The Last Poets during its 1990s resurgence, and co-edited with Umar Bin Hassan, On A Mission: Selected Poems and a History of the Last Poets (1996). He published his first poetry collection with 2Leaf Press, Branches of The Tree of Life: The Collected Poems of Abiodun Oyewole 1969-2013 (2Leaf Press, 2014), released the rap CD, 25 Years (1996), and the song albums, Gratitude (Sons Rising Entertainment, 2014), and Love Has No Season (2014). Oyewole received his BS in biology and BA in communications at Shaw University, an MA in education at Columbia University, and is a Columbia Charles H. Revson Fellow (1989). Over the years, Oyewole has collaborated on more than a dozen albums and several books. He writes poetry almost every day, travels around the world performing poetry and teaching workshops, gives lectures on poetry, history and politics, and holds a weekly salon for artists, poets and writers in his home in Harlem, New York.


GABRIELLE DAVID is the publisher of 2Leaf Press, an imprint of the Intercultural Alliance of Artists & Scholars, Inc. (IAAS), a NY-based nonprofit organization that promotes multicultural literature and literacy, of which she serves as executive director. She is also editor-in-chief of the award-winning quarterly, phati’tude Literary Magazine. Her poetry and essays have appeared in the Paterson Literary Review, Journal of New Jersey Poets, AIM Magazine, and the Huffington Post, and she recently co-edited the poetry collections, Obatalá’s Bugalú by Jaime “Shaggy” Flores (South of Harlem Libros, 2013) and Hey Yo! Yo Soy! 40 Years of Nuyorican Street Poetry by Jesús Papoleto Meléndez (2Leaf Press, 2012).


BETTY J. DOPSON is an administrator, organizer and cultural activist. Having worked at Sydenham Hospital, she received her Bachelor’s Degree in Communications Arts and Sciences from Queens College and became the Director of Public Relations at Harlem Hospital Center, where she served for 15 years. During her tenure, she established “Harlem Hospital Babies Day,” published the hospital’s newspaper, Centerview, recorded oral histories from the medical staff for The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, and produced and hosted the cable TV program “Your Health is Your Responsibility.” She went on to work as the director of SQPA, NY Beacon School that offered classes such as GED Prep, computer training, ESL, and recreational programming. Dopson is the co-founder and co-chair of CEMOTAP, Committee to Eliminate Media Offensive to African People, a 27 year old watch organization created to monitor and confront offensive electronic and print media. She is also is a founding member and co-chair of the Board for the Education of People of African Ancestry; a member of the Women’s Fellowship of St. Albans Congregational Church; The Sisterhood; The Imani Group and is a former board member of WBAI, a progressive FM radio station in New York City. Dopson has written the popular book Shared Secrets of Elder Sisters, which was mounted as a play by the Queens Black Spectrum Theater that she currently performs as a one-woman show.

Press Kit

Download high-resolution photos, book covers, author bios, book information sheets and press releases. Please use photo credits where indicated. Right click on photos and book covers to “save as,” and download PDFs. For more information, contact Gabrielle David at gdavid [AT] 2leafpress [DOT] org.


Edited, produced and directed by Vagabond

Edited, produced and directed by Vagabond Beaumont

What People Are Saying

Branches of The Tree of Life is a literary treasure. Abiodun Oyewole is a living legend who speaks truth to power and celebrates the life, struggles, triumphs, beauty and realities of being African in America. Kudos to this magnificent collection of one of the world’s foremost poetic giants.

— Linda H. Humes, African Studies Dept. John Jay College Founder, Yaffa Cultural Arts Inc.

In Branches From the Tree of Life, Abiodun Oyewole, best known for his lifelong membership in The Last Poets, takes a well-deserved solo turn. . . Abiodun’s collected poems faithfully shift gears one after the other, from praise to revolutionary exhortation and back again. A gift from a venerated lion in winter, they’re meant to fortify and inspire us, to remind us to treasure our history and to do the work necessary to create the future of our fondest dreams.

— Bill Adler, co-author of Def Jam: The First 25 Years of the Last Great Record Label

I have been listening to Abiodun since middle school and have had the honor to grace many stages with him. He is truly a pioneer . . . He will go in the archives for centuries to come.

— Etan Thomas, poet, author and NBA champion

Dune is a one man poetic army, his word and that big, booming voice of his are his weapons, but that heart – his love for poetry and people are the healing salve.

— Toni Blackman, Artist/U.S. Hip Hop Ambassador

Abiodun Oyewole is one of the most important voices of his generation and my own. He opens up his heart and allows us to be one of the branches of a tremendous tree he has planted inside this revolutionary language called poetry. A mentor, a critic, and an inspirational voice of truth, he is a poet that shares his life with the world, and I am forever grateful for being one of the flowers he helped bloom.

— Jessica Care Moore, Award-winning poet and publisher


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