Audio: Today’s Poet

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Known for an indomitable stage presence and voice that belies her appearance, Aja Monet is one of the most accomplished and respected poets within the community. She was a member of the first youth team from NYC to win the Brave New Voices Youth National Poetry slam. At the age of 19, Aja Monet became the youngest individual to ever win the legendary Nuyorican Poets Café grand slam champion title in 2007, ranking top 20 in the National Poetry Slam and 5th in the nation as part of the Nuyorican slam team within the same year. The following year Monet was on the Hollywood Slam team at Da Poetry Lounge in Los Angeles, CA. She has performed at the NAACP Pre-Inauguration Event for Barack Obama. She has performed On-Broadway at the Town Hall theatre, the Apollo theatre, the Nuyorican Poets Café, Bowery Poetry Club, B.B. Kings, The Schomburg Center of Harlem, and various college campuses, universities and venues around the United States, Europe, Cuba and Bermuda. Often received by both poetry and Hip Hop crowds, Aja Monet has shared the stage with incredible poets Amiri Baraka, Ntozake Shange, and countless others.

Monet has served as a youth mentor, poetry mentor and poetry slam coach for Urban Word NYC, working with at-risk youth in inner-city New York and has for three years worked with Odyssey House as poetry/performance program coordinator, teacher, and mentor. Additionally, using poetry as a therapeutic art form, she teaches summers at Omega Institute, a centre for holistic studies in Rhinebeck, NY. She’s also a board member of Poetic Justice a non profit organisation based in Uniondale, NY.

A graduate of Sarah Lawrence College, Monet received her BA in Liberal Arts and was awarded The Andrea Klein Willison Prize for Poetry which was established to recognize undergraduate students whose work in poetry “effectively examines relationships among women, especially in the context of justice for everyone.” She then went on to receive an MFA in Creative Writing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2011.

She independently published her first book of poetry, The Black Unicorn Sings in 2010 and collaborated with poet/musician Saul Williams on the book Chorus: a literary mixtape two years later. Her first album Scared To Make Love/Scared Not To was independently released through Bandcamp in 2010. Monet recently released an ebook called Inner-City Chants & Cyborg Ciphers as well as three new pieces of music on her Soundcloud which you can hear in the post.

CF Smith

Write for Music Is My Sanctuary & Stereofox.

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