I am 27 and have never killed a man
but I know the face of death as if heirloom
my country memorizes murder as lullaby
—from “For Fahd”
Textured with the sights and sounds of growing up in East New York in the nineties, to school on the South Side of Chicago, all the way to the olive groves of Palestine, My Mother Is a Freedom Fighter is Aja Monet’s ode to mothers, daughters, and sisters—the tiny gods who fight to change the world. Complemented by striking cover art from Carrie Mae Weems, these stunning poems tackle racism, sexism, genocide, displacement, heartbreak, and grief, but also love, motherhood, spirituality, and Black joy.
Praise for Aja Monet:
““[Monet] is the true definition of an artist.”
““In Paris, she walked out onto the stage, opened her mouth and spoke. At the first utterance I heard that rare something that said this is special and knew immediately that Aja Monet was one of the Ones who will mark the sound of the ages. She brings depth of voice to the voiceless, and through her we sing a powerful song.”
—Carrie Mae Weems
Of Cuban-Jamaican descent, Aja Monet is an internationally established poet, performer, singer, songwriter, educator, and human rights advocate. Monet is also the youngest person to win the legendary Nuyorican Poet’s Café Grand Slam title.
Monet (The Black Unicorn Sings), winner of the 2007 Nuyorican Poet's Caf Grand Slam title, explores and celebrates the myriad experiences of black womanhood in this fierce and revolutionary "ode/ to her revolt." She draws upon rich memories of her Brooklyn childhood in the 1990s, school days passed on Chicago's South Side, and an inner awakening in Palestine. Monet strikingly illustrates the passage from girlhood to womanhood, recording the tumultuous shifts between despair and joy that can occur along the way. Womanhood becomes both "the way we wound and heal." The girls who develop into women in these poems exude strength and self-assurance, unafraid of the conflicting demands of a world that too often devalues them. Monet seems to suggest that women become fighters and warriors in response to the violence of racism and patriarchy. In the opening poem, Monet describes a young girl's budding selfhood: "a deep remembering of what was, she survives all." That self connects to the women who have come before and will come after: "my mother does not know/ we are sisters." Monet also writes of poverty, violence, the bonds of solidarity, and much more. In stunning and evocative language, Monet reveals the many ways that "we exist between/ a self for self and a self for others."