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My Mother Was a Freedom Fighter, Aja Monet.

June 7, 2017

“My Mother Was a Freedom Fighter”: An Ode to Mothers, Daughters, Sisters.  Aja Monet. Haymarket Books, May 2017.

3 stars

An angry yet hopeful prose poem by an African American woman who uses language to expand our visions of our world.

Aja Monet is a poet and much more. A young woman from Brooklyn, Monet is a performer, musician, and educator draws on her Jamacan and Cuban roots.  She graduated from Sarah Lawrence College in 2009, and earned her MFA from the Art Institute of Chicago in 2011.  Believing that “Education was the village that raised me,” she works with a variety of groups to teach students to find their voices instead get caught up in violence.

Monet uses poetry as a therapeutic tool with at-risk inner city kids, showing how words can empower and encourage holistic healing in youth education. She teaches her students to harness meaning in the world and to transform the world by transforming selves. For examples, see her website at

In My Mother Was a Freedom Fighter, Monet uses poetry to delineate the brutality and confusion of inner-city life, especially for women of color.  By facing the pain, she seeks to transform it, to give it wider meaning.  She is particularly sensitive to women’s pain and contributions.  While I honor her for what she does, I had difficulty relating to her words. Her writing left me intensely aware of her youth and my own age.  I understood in a new way how much urban youth need a language that is different than mine.  I wish her luck.

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