de Leon


African Americans
Art & Politics
Hip Hop
Poetry/Spoken Word
Programs for High School Students
Racism/Racial Justice
Women & Feminism

Aya de Leon is a writer/performer working in poetry, fiction, and hip hop theater. Her work has received acclaim in the Village Voice, Washington Post, American Theatre Magazine, and she has been featured on Def Poetry, in Essence Magazine, and various anthologies and journals.

Aya also blogs on race, gender and culture. Her recent freelance work has been featured in xojane, Movement Strategy Center, Writers Digest, Woman’s Day, the Good Men Project, the Feminist Wire, My Brown Baby, KQED Pop, Bitch Magazine, and she was recently a guest on HuffPostLive.

Aya is the Director of June Jordan’s Poetry for the People program, teaching poetry, spoken word, and hip hop at the University of California, Berkeley. She 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 since 1995 has been hosting an annual Valentine’s Day show that focuses on self-love.

Aya was named best discovery in theater for 2004 by the San Francisco Chronicle for “Thieves in the Temple: The Reclaiming of Hip Hop,” her solo show about fighting sexism and commercialism in hip hop. Also in 2004, she received a Goldie award from the San Francisco 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.

She has released three spoken word CDs, several chapbooks, and a video of “Thieves…” Since becoming a mom in 2009, she has transitioned into being a novelist too. The first book of a two part series - a sexy, feminist Robin Hood heist caper - is due out Spring 2016 from Kensington Publishing in New York. She is also the author of Puffy: People Whose Hair Defies Gravity, a children's book designed to provide puffy-haired kids with positive images, and to provide all of us with an opportunity to celebrate the wonderful diversity of our world.

Most recently, Aya released her debut novel, "Uptown Thief" (July 2016). "…de León’s urban adventure combines sexiness with compassion. Marisol is an interesting Robin Hood, and her struggles to help her friends and family, as well as realistic stories of women in shelters seeking refuge from dangerous men, will resonate with readers. De Leon offers erotica with an engaging plot and emotional and social depth." — Amy Alessio, Booklist advance review


Thank you again, Aya, for such an outstanding class visit and public reading down at CSU Monterey Bay. Your time and presence were a true gift for students and colleagues alike. Big appreciation from the Creative Writing and Social Action Program! Looking forward to future projects and social justice heist collaborations. 
- Debra Busman, Director, Creative Writing and Social Action Program, CSU Monterey Bay