Written by Nia (Ling) Moore
Aja Monet is a surrealist Blues Afro Latina poet, storyteller, and organizer from Brooklyn, NY. Her work explores topics like race, spirituality, gender, and migration. In 2007, Aja won the Legendary Nuyorican Poets Grand Slam Poetry award title for her first collection of poems entitled “ My Mother Was a Freedom Fighter On HayMarket Books” which told the unique story of the upbringing of children and herself in Brooklyn and the trying times most of them went through. Monet went on to be nominated for an NAACP Literary Award for poetry in 2018 and in 2019 she was awarded the Majority Stoneman Douglas Award for poetry. As of today, Monet has gone on to facilitate, “Voices: Poetry for the people” which is a workshop and collective in collaboration with the Community Justice Project and Dream Defenders.
I personally resonate with her story because I am also a poet and I usually speak on the topics of love and life but to see where Aja is in her journey, I also see myself in some aspect of what she’s done. I’ve participated in Porch Poetry which took place on an older apartment complex’s porch in South Central LA. This event was organized by Hood Profet who is also an Afro-Indigenous poet like myself and he, with the help of the rest of the affected community were able to create a safe space for all poets to have an open mic to express anything they felt called to express at the moment which is something like Aja’s collective workshop, “ Voices: Poetry For The People” in Brooklyn. As you may know, Los Angeles is becoming more gentrified everyday and events like these are what helped the open mic organizers stay in their homes while landlords and gentrifiers came to their neighborhoods to spike up the rent in hopes of them moving out. I plan on continuing my path with poetry as a side hobby and then when I’m more independent, I will be creating a safe space for the people to express themselves.