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Lit Friday: aja monet

January 26 @ 6:00 pm


On the back of the August Wilson African American Cultural Center’s dynamic Hooks & Phonics program, special guest, Grammy-nominated spoken word artist and vocalist aja monet, sits down with LIT Friday’s Jessica Lanay for a conversation about her new album When the Poems Do What They Do and forthcoming publication Florida Water.

Lit Fridays is a literary-focused, virtual salon presented by the August Wilson African American Cultural Center, featuring conversations and guest performances on the last Friday* of each month at 6:00p EST via Facebook Live and Zoom Webinar. All conversations are moderated by AWAACC Literary Curator, Jessica Lanay.

*This event is pre-recorded

aja monet is a Grammy-nominated surrealist blues poet. Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, she won the legendary Nuyorican Poets Cafe Grand Slam poetry award title at age 19 and follows in the long legacy and tradition of poets participating and assembling in social movements. Her poems are a work of gravity. They are a fundamental for which all things are attracted, considered upon and enacted towards. Her work moves, constantly, between origin and outcome, allowing them to exist in converse. On her debut album when the poems do what they do, we glimpse her indefatigable commitment to speak. Those thematic origins of this album at times center around Black resistance, love and the inexhaustible quest for joy. The songs throughout are insistent and unrelenting, with some reminiscent of jazz club virtuosity and melee while others act as a healing balm in gilead, moving like that of the call to intercessory prayer.

As a poet, community organizer, and educator aja monet moves between mediums, each one an element to her writing. Organizing and activism manifest as part of a process toward liberation, with the poems, the music, and the art serving as the scribe of the time. Building off oratorical traditions, aja is the conduit for her predecessors to channel through. At any given time you’ll find the revolutionary spirit of Audre Lorde and the Last Poets, you’ll feel June Jordan, Amiri Baraka, Jayne Cortez and even the expressive ephemerality of a passing blue note.

Her first full collection of poems entitled, my mother was a freedom fighter is a testament to all mothers, women, and girls who struggle to live, love, and move freely in the world, and was nominated for a NAACP Image Award for Poetry. In 2019 monet was awarded the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Award for Poetry. She will be launching her next full collection of poems called Florida Water with Haymarket Books in 2024.


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