Akilah Oliver was born on April 18, 1961, in St. Louis. She lived in Los Angeles and was later a PhD candidate at the European Graduate School in Switzerland.
Oliver authored two collections of poetry: A Toast in the House of Friends (Coffee House Press, 2009) and the she said dialogues: flesh memory (Nightboat Books, 2021; Smokeproof Press,1999), which received a PEN Beyond Margins Award. She was known for her performances and cofounded Sacred Naked Nature Girls, a feminist, experimental performance collective, in 1994.
About her work, Harryette Mullen wrote, “She bares the naked truth of the double-edged poet’s word. This bolder sister outsider brings the sound of her distinct dream to the fanfare for the next millennium.”
Oliver taught at the Naropa Institute’s Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics in Boulder, Colorado, as well as The New School and the Pratt Institute in New York City.
Oliver died at her home in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, in February 2011.