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POEM – ‘a portrait’

By Aja Monet


‘a portrait’

for Carrie



grace is a stretch you walk

sitting or kneeling after a stroll,

an exhale at a sanctuary of sounds

the string, the harp, the woodwind quartet,

a rhythm section plays for you

a cacophony huddled in a chest

arms or wings blazing a poetic field

of tone, the forlorn sound of a trumpet

a constant refrain of resist

all daughters in movement

the gods of grief

a stream visited by wringing hands

at the foot of thirst, a wild mare on wounded knee

tending to self

not knowing to accept or let go

sister in the pews,

fanning, prayers, holding space

a skirt tail between fingers

overlooking, shredding

whatever frets the eye




This poem, featured in Aja Monet’s latest book, My Mother Was A Freedom Fighter, is a portrait of American artist Carrie Mae Weems.


Harry Belafonte has called Aja Monet “the true definition of an artist.” An internationally established poet of Cuban-Jamaican descent, Monet’s craft is an in-depth reflection of emotional wisdom, skill and activism. The youngest individual to win the legendary Nuyorican Poet’s Café Grand Slam title, she is recognised for combining her spellbinding voice and powerful imagery on stage. Monet was a featured speaker at the Women’s March on Washington DC where she read the title poem of her latest book.


My Mother Was A Freedom Fighter by Aja Monet is available here from Haymarket Books.



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