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  • Writer's pictureCatherine White

Bubble Gum Poetry

Renowned Poet Akua Lezli Hope Creates Whimsical Poetry Project

Imagine, instead of paying to get a plastic toy, one could slip a shiny coin into a vending machine and out pops the thoughts, dreams, and perspectives of a poet.

The Poetry Vending Machine Project, from award-winning poet Akua Lezli Hope, is a literary art community outreach project, based in Corning, NY, that's inviting residents in the Crystal City, Steuben County and surrounding areas to submit poems for consideration for inclusion in a vending machine to be installed in various locations throughout the region. The vending machine's first installation will be at The ARTS of the Southern Finger Lakes on West Market Street in downtown Corning.

“The ARTS Council is proud to support Akua Lezli Hope's work. Akua sees how the world can be transformed by the act of creation. She is always imagining a world that is a little more beautiful, a little more just, a little better,” says Dr. Constance Sullivan-Blum, Executive Director of The ARTS Council of the Southern Finger Lakes. “The poetry vending machine is one example of her creative impulse. Using a gently whimsical approach, the project gives voice to local poets and makes their work accessible to ordinary people.”

Akua Lezli Hope is a renowned poet and artist who's spent years engaging and inspiring the Southern Tier community through interactive activities and public talks. She was recently named 2022 Grand Master of Fantastic Poetry by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association (SFPA). A SFPA Grand Master designation is a prestigious honor. The SFPA has only named eleven Grand Master Awards since its founding in 1978, including Mary Soon Lee and Ray Bradbury.

Poet Akua Lezli Hope, Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association Grand Master

“I've known Akua for over 20 years. She is driven by her creativity. She always sees a way to elevate the ordinary so that it becomes extraordinary. I think that is why she is renowned for her fantastical poetry,” says Dr. Sullivan-Blum.

“I am deeply honored and affirmed by this fabulous recognition,” Ms. Hope said. “My first literature was speculative poetry as I learned and sang Mother Goose nursery rhymes, hand clap and jump rope chants. In elementary school I read Animal Farm, Brave New World, 1984, and Alice in Wonderland. Jabberwocky cracked open a world of language’s possibilities to me. I wrote my first speculative poems in the sixth grade and for my 50th high school reunion, our literary magazine was shared and there were two of my science fiction short stories, both beginning with speculative poems.”

There are so many ways to support and engage creative talented artists like Ms. Hope, and her latest, the Poetry Vending Machine Project, offers several, either as a poet or supporter of this community literary art effort. The refashioned vending machine holds 180 capsules so there's plenty of opportunity for local poets to participate. Those whose poems are selected will receive $5.00. Previously published poems are welcome.

Learn more about the project, get the full submission rules and learn about future installations at


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