author – activist – faculty – mom
Aya de Leon is an acclaimed writer of prose and poetry. In July 2016, Kensington Books published her novel UPTOWN THIEF, a Latina Robin Hood heist story on New York’s Lower East Side. This debut novel won a first place Independent Publisher Award, and is a finalist for the International Latino Book Awards in two categories. In 2017, Kensington published the follow-up feminist heist novel THE BOSS, and has contracted for two more books in the Justice Hustlers series in 2018 and 2019. 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, 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 from 1995 to 2012, she hosted an annual Valentine’s Day show that focuses on self-love. She has released three spoken word CDs, several chapbooks, and a video of “Thieves…” Since becoming a mom in 2009, she transitioned from being a touring performer into being a novelist and essayist. 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, Ebony, Womans Day, Writers Digest, VICE, Mutha Magazine, Movement Strategy Center, My Brown Baby, The Good Men Project, KQED Pop, Bitch Magazine, The Feminist Wire, Racialicious, and Quartz. She is currently at work on the Justice Hustlers series, a YA black teen spy girl novel called Going Dark, and a picture book about talking to young children about racism. She’s on Facebook and Twitter.