author – activist – faculty – mom
Aya de Leon is an acclaimed writer of prose and poetry. Kensington Books publishes her Justice Hustlers series: UPTOWN THIEF (2016), THE BOSS (2017), THE ACCIDENTAL MISTRESS (2018) and SIDE CHICK NATION (2019), the first novel published about Hurricane Maria. Books in the series have won first place in both the Independent Publisher awards and the International Latino Book Awards. In 2020, Kensington will publish Aya’s first African American spy novel. n 2020 Kensington will publish Aya’s first spy novel, about FBI infiltration of an African American political organization. Aya is currently at work on a picture book to help talk to children about racism, as well as a black/Latina spy girl series for teens called GOING DARK. Aya is the Director of June Jordan’s Poetry for the People, teaching poetry and spoken word at UC Berkeley. Her work has received acclaim in the Village Voice, Washington Post, American Theatre Magazine, Jacobin and The Establishment, and has been featured on Def Poetry, in Essence Magazine, and various anthologies and journals. She was named best discovery in theater for 2004 by the SF Chronicle for “Thieves in the Temple : The Reclaiming of Hip Hop,” a solo show about fighting sexism and commercialism in hip hop. Also in 2004, she received a Goldie award from the SF Bay Guardian in spoken word for “Thieves…” and her subsequent show “Aya de Leon is Running for President.” In 2005 she was voted “Slamminest Poet” in the East Bay Express, and she also co-hosted the kickoff party for Current TV with Mos Def. Aya has been an artist in residence at Stanford University, a Cave Canem poetry fellow, and a slam poetry champion. She publicly married herself in the 90s and for over a decade she hosted an annual Valentine’s Day show that focused on self-love. She has released three spoken word CDs, several chapbooks, and a video of “Thieves…” After becoming a mom in 2009, she transitioned from being a touring performer into being a novelist. Aya began blogging in 2011, and since 2013 has been consistently blogging on race, gender and culture. Her recent freelance work has been featured in Guernica, xojane, Huffington Post, The Toast, The Root, Ebony, Womans Day, Writers Digest, Bitch Magazine, Racialicious, Ploughshares and Quartz, and she’s an advice columnist for Mutha Magazine. She is an alumna of Cave Canem and VONA. You can also find her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.