Akbar Imhotep (Courtesy of The Wren’s Nest)

Renowned Atlanta storyteller, poet, and puppeteer Akbar Imhotep has died at 71 after suffering from pneumonia.

Imhotep might be best remembered for his long association with The Wren’s Nest – the historic home of author and journalist Joel Chandler Harris – in West End, where he was a storyteller for 37 years.

The Wren’s Nest said in a statement that Akbar first visited the home in 1985 when he heard it was looking for storytellers.

He volunteered and became our storyteller-in-residence, entertaining countless visitors to the house and students at numerous schools over the last five decades. Usually dressed in a colorful dashiki, Akbar delighted in making connections between the Uncle Remus tales and African folktales, especially in his telling of the Angolan tale “Smart Turtle.”

Imhotep was a critical figure in the transition of The Wren’s Nest into a more welcoming and inclusive institution, the statement also said.

Just before his death, Imhotep was honored with the Zora Neale Hurston Award for Lifetime Achievement by the National Association of Black Storytellers.

Imhotep also received a 2012 Governor’s Arts & Humanities Award, worked as a storyteller for Project Discovery at Zoo Atlanta, and was a puppeteer-in-residence at the Center for Puppetry Arts.

He published numerous books, including is most recent poetry collection “70 @ 70” earlier this year.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.