Aya de León: Writing Compulsively | The BABG Vlog
In this episode of Badass Black Girl, MJ and Nehemie talk with Aya de Leon, novelist, activist, poet, spoken word artist, and hip-hop theater, and fiction writer. They discuss her series Justice Hunters, and her books A Spy in the Struggle and Queen of Urban Prophecies. They discuss how in the midst of the pandemic, Aya has found that compulsively writing gives her a sense of control over her life, and that while some people binge watch television, she finds herself compulsively writing novels. They discuss the importance of finding a community of writers and forging connections with other women, especially Black women. Aya discusses some of her favorite books that she has been re-reading lately, and what kind of writing she does. They talk about her writing process and themes she is drawn to. MJ asks how does one maintain a community of Black female writers, and Aya talks about struggles in the literary industry surrounding racism, sexism, classism, homophobia, ableism and xenophobia, and stresses the importance of doing your due diligence before joining a community, especially an MFA program, because there is plenty of predatory behavior in MFA programs, but beyond that, getting clear feedback in an MFA program that is not tinged with sexist or racist sentiments is difficult, because the majority of faculty and classmates in these programs are white. She urges young writers to be careful about where they share their work. She also suggests different outlets for those in search of a writing community.
Aya de León is the author of the award-winning Justice Hustlers series. She teaches creative writing in the African American Studies Department at UC Berkeley and is an alumna of Cave Canem, VONA, and Harvard University. She is a winner of the International Latino Book Award, a three-time winner of the Independent Publisher Awards, and her extensive writing credits include Guernica, Essence, Electric Lit, Ebony, Huffington Post, VICE, Ploughshares, Woman's Day, and Bitch magazine, among many other websites and publications. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and is active in the climate justice movement and the Movement for Black Lives.
Visit her website at AyadeLeon.com.