Educator Profile

Aja Monet

Poetry & Spoken Word

“The true definition of an artist” is how the iconic Harry Belafonte describes Aja Monet who – at the age of 19 – became the youngest individual to ever win the legendary Nuyorican Poet’s Cafe Grand Slam champion title in 2007 and is the last woman to win the title. The poetry of Brooklyn-native Aja Monet is an in depth reflection of emotional wisdom, skill, and activism.

Known for an indomitable stage presence and voice that belies her appearance, Aja Monet captivates a wide range of audiences as she has performed, lectured, and taught at various venues, colleges, and universities across the United States and abroad. She has showcased at world-renowned venues including On Broadway at the Town Hall Theater, Apollo Theater, Paradiso (in Amsterdam), and countless others. AjaMonet was invited by the UN Youth Delegates to perform for ambassadors, national politicians, diplomats, and directors of various agencies at the United Nations in New York City (2008). In Fall of that same year, she was invited to perform for NAACP’s Barack Obama Inaugural event in Washington DC. Her work has philosophical impact on perspective and critical thinking. Aja Monet uses poetry as a holistic healing tool empowering and encouraging youth development in education. She was invited by Cook County Commissioners of Illinois to perform for elected officials and visited numerous youth institutions, developing voices as an alternative to violence. She uses poetry as a transformative force.  Largely influenced by all areas of the Arts, Aja Monet was invited by contemporary artist Hank Willis Thomas & Scholar Deborah Willis to speak at Musee du Quai Branly for NYU’s Black Portraitures Conference in Paris, France (2013) where she addressed international scholars, artists, and performers on the role of the poet in contemporary society.

A graduate of Sarah Lawrence College (2009), Aja Monet received her BA in Liberal Arts and was awarded the 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.” Aja then went on to receive an MFA in Creative Writing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (2011). Her Graduate thesis was also her first compilation of music and poetry; entitled Scared to Make Love/Scared Not To, it is atestament to her creative lens and a social commentary on the discussion of love.

Aja Monet independently published her first book of poetry, The Black Unicorn Sings (2010). In 2012, she collaborated with poet/musician Saul Williams on a book entitled, Chorus: A Literary Mixtape (MTV books/Simon&Schuster). She is currently working on new music and a book of poems to be released in 2014. For more info visit ajamonet.com