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My Mother Was a Freedom Fighter

4.30  ·  Rating details ·  324 ratings  ·  52 reviews
I am 27 and have never killed a man
but I know the face of death as if heirloom
my country memorizes murder as lullaby
—from “For Fahd”

Textured with the sights and sounds of growing up in East New York in the nineties, to school on the South Side of Chicago, all the way to the olive groves of Palestine, My Mother Is a Freedom Fighter is Aja Monet’s ode to mothers, daughters, and sisters—the tinylullaby
Paperback, 150 pages
Published June 22nd 2017 by Haymarket Books (first published June 9th 2017)
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Average rating 4.30  · 
Rating details
 ·  324 ratings  ·  52 reviews

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Oct 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Interesting, powerful, at times challenging poetry. Worth a look.
Bree Hill
Apr 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
One of the first things you read when you open this book is, "We are the stories we tell ourselves." Although this is a collection of poetry, Aja Monet did a wonderful job of creating poems that also could've each been their own little short story. In each she introduces us to someone, a time and a place that you get so interested in and don't want to leave and have to remind yourself, it's a poem.

The collection is told in 3 parts: Inner City Chants, Witnessing and (un)Dressing a Wou
Apr 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Aja Monet (according to the bio blurb) is, among other things, a performance artist and this shows in her poems. When I read it that way, the poems (already excellent) took on an even greater life. Many lines roll with repeated consonants, waiting to be cried out.

The poems deal with race, loss, violence, and (last but not least) the power of love. The ultimate lesson I felt left with that simply "to be" was a valuable form of resistance to stultifying power that kills some people and
Jul 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This collection of poetry by Aja Monet is a beautifully heartbreaking whirlwind of locations and emotions. In the 76 poems, the reader travels around poverty-stricken neighborhoods in Brooklyn, upscale wealth in Manhattan, occupied Palestine, and everywhere in between. There are topics of race and racism, relationships, police brutality and targeting, diaspora, the cyclical nature of poverty, the necessity of education, domestic violence, food, love, and death. She lays out the beating heart of ...more
Apr 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Aja's poems nourish you in that "stick to your ribs" sorta way. Some days I digested them slowly, while other days I devoured them as quickly as I skimmed the page. She had me thinking about poems long after I read them, imagining Aja's world and wondering about her inspirations. She had me thinking about a revolution. She had me thinking about home girls I've shared space + stories with. She had me thinking about the women around me who had revolution brewing in and around them just by survivin ...more
Feb 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a powerful, gut-punching collection of poetry. Monet's voice is so strong and the lyricism of the lines in each poem sticks with you. I could almost feel myself swaying as I read along to each piece. And the images used throughout range from soothing to visceral, creating a natural roller coaster of emotions. What an absolutely phenomenal collection of poetry. I definitely recommend this to anyone, especially for writers who want to get better at the craft: this is a perfect example of p ...more
Apr 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
I am a recent lover of poetry - before opening Carol Ann Duffy's books I could not 'get' poetry at all. I now enjoy them very much, even though some remain inaccessible to me. This book skirts that line - I really liked the shorter poems, while the longer ones were harder for me to follow. I'm sure this is just a function of experience and taste, and that over time my poetry senses will be refined enough to allow me to savour this book from the first to the last poems.
Jherane Patmore
I loved these poems and felt almost every single one of them, but I really really could NOT deal with womanhood being so closely tied to the womb/motherhood/bodies. Those poems made me a bit uncomfortable.

Despite that, these poems were very political, very powerful and very relevant.
Apr 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
Excellent collection of poetry. It packs a punch too.
bklyn mike art
Feb 06, 2018 rated it liked it
poems of pain, hope and social justice.
Mar 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Wow, I'm lost for words here. This is the most beautiful poetry collections I've read in years. It's highly political, but it still achieves the highest literary beauty a poet can earn and offer.
My favorites are:
- the giving tree
- is that all you got
- the ghost of women once girls
- limbo
- when the poor sing
- the body remembers
- niggas in paris
- dark matter
Aug 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the strongest and most beautiful collections of poetry I've read. Monet's power is in her repeated mantra: tenderness; this is a collection that sifts through pain to honor womanhood and personhood in the face of our collective social retreat from goodness. The poems are solid as they are flexible. As a reader, I feel connected to Monet through her life's tellings as well as through what is universal in what we all want.
Audra (Unabridged Chick)
being policed for being
too poor
too much a shade
a color
a shade of color
too close to the root
too close to the color
               the shade
too close
to the color of a beating
being beaten
                    beating         heart

-- from "the first time"

Poetry doesn't have to be complicated or obscure. Poetry can pull out the sharp thorn of truth and hold it up in a way that would be pedantic or amateurish in fiction or essay. Poetry distills down what is so very individual into a sip that offers a brief flash of universal understanding.

Monet's volume of poetry grabbed me w/>                   />being/>to/>too/>              />too/>too/>a/>a/>too/>too
This collection of poetry demands not just close reading, but immersion in the words and the rhythm. I read this through twice, and aloud, and listened to Monet's own performances of the pieces on Youtube (I would give anything for a recording of her performing 'the young'). It took a long time for me to absorb myself in this poetry but once I did I really appreciated the lyricism, beat, and emotion. It doesn't hurt that Monet consistently employs my favourite techniques of internal and partial ...more
Wyrd Witch
Nov 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: feminism, poetry
This collection was really 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Monet carries a true gift, and that gift beams out of this collection with every turn of the page. The language is gorgeous. The poems all center on familiar themes of resistance, radical love, self-love, romance, the overwhelming presence of death in a world created to despise your presence, and the importance of solidarity in the world's pain.

This collection is perfect for every single moment we have been living in 2018. Despite the prevalence of
Jan 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This just might be the best poetry I've ever read. I tried to pick a favorite piece and I can't. Every poem is rhythmic and full of beauty, pain, love, defiance, despair, and hope. Read it now!

Some of my favorite lines:
"though our wounds were hidden, our healing was there, bright and brilliant"
"the emerald of ellipsis we the women who conjured and escaped"
"a man is only as great as the alter he kneels toward"
"you is blessed all up and down girl you are powerful in your w
Leah Rachel von Essen
Nov 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
My Mother Was A Freedom Fighter by Aja Monet is a gorgeous collection of poetry about revolution, womanhood, and love.

I think it takes the reader a while to adapt to Monet’s voice. It’s clear that she wrote these poems speaking aloud or thinking them as though she was speaking aloud—reading them aloud makes them flow more easily, but I would have liked to know how spots that lacked punctuation or line breaks for guidance would have sounded and flowed in her voice, because I know that
James Fant
Dec 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful Voice.

Gerald Clayton's “Lover's Reverie” hipped me to Aja Monet. The silk in her voice. Rich. Warm. And I found out she was had published works so I invested not only in her gift but also my growth when I purchased “My Mother Was a Freedom Fighter.” Because I wanted to support the artist but I also, selfishly, wanted to support my own growth as a teller of stories. And I wanted to support my addiction for great writing. For alliteration. For tone and timing and rhyme and rhythm. And I
Nathalia T.
Nov 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
I have to say that not all the poems are easily understood as they are fragmented.... Still, the book has a slight political and criticizing approach to it.

Favorite poems :

"I never met a woman who wasn't
fighting for freedom
an entire life
to trust
what truth

"for the mothers who did the best they could" on pgs.12-3

"limbo" on pgs.20-2

"district two" on pg.33

"the first time" on pgs.46-7

"the d
Shahd Fadlalmoula
Although I don't particularly enjoy disjointed writing, I can appreciate the careful way in which Aja Monet uses her work to create literal, and figurative ruptures in the reader's consciousness. Her poetry is challenging, it beckons you out of your own comfort zone, and in that way her work is a revolution within a revolution. In that way, Aja Monet is one of the most skillful post-modernist poets you may come across.
Oct 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful, powerful book. I heard Aja speak this week, and she signed my book: "May these poems hold you. Evolve the heart!" The book did all of this and much more. She writes about challenging topic she with such care. The reader cannot help but be held by her words. I highly recommend spending time with this book and seeing if your heart does not in fact evolve.
Oct 24, 2017 rated it liked it
Aja Monet is a talented and well traveled poet who weaves her many experiences into deeply honest and fiery poems about oppression. Monet packs her poems with powerful reminders, notable juxtapositions, and scathing revelations. I enjoyed this work but found her poems often followed the same form which I found to be a tad repetitive. A great work but not among the best I have read this year.
Nov 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
This book moved me. The author highlights everyday people and their struggles. One poem in particular called "for the mothers who did the best they could" exposes the trails and obstacles that stand in the way of a brighter future. She writes...

"a single mother alone
making due with what may
what madness comes with the survival of the fittest
if spirits prove we reach beyond"
Nov 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry-and-plays
A stunning and evocative collection of poetry. Aja Monet has a real talent for making a poem both immediately visceral and strongly thematic, which makes for some truly powerful lines.

I can already tell it's a collection that will stay with me for some time.
Jan 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Read this collection. Unbelievably powerful, important and beautiful.
Jul 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A beautiful collection of poetry while also biting in her processing of being in relationship to her mother. A Black feminist text I would consider assigning for a women of color feminism course.
Sep 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
I loved "Album credits should Include all the bed maidens" and "The body remembers".
Jul 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is an excellent collection. I would love to hear the poems too, just to compare!
My experience with these poems was either meh or HOLY SHIT WOW. Nothing in between.
Jun 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Loved it, takes energy to process.
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Amazing book! Amazing person! 1 1 May 16, 2017 07:01PM  

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The ghosts of women once girls

Somewhere a little girl is reading aloud
in the middle of a dirt road. she smiles
at the sound of her own voice escaping
the spine of the book. she feeds her hunger
to know herself. She has not yet been taught
to dim, she sits with the stars beneath her feet,
a constellation of things to come.
as if a swallowed moon, she glimmers.
Her head wrap rolls out in a gutter, bare feet
scat the earth, the ghosts of women once girls
make bridge of the dust dancing behind her,
she decorates the ground in dimples
she stomps suffering out the spirit
hooves drumming the earth in circles
she holds gladness in her mouth
like a secret teased out of a giggle
joy like her sadness overflows
she is not the opinions of others
she is of visions and imagination
somewhere a little girl is reading aloud in the middle of a dirt road.
she smiles at the sound of her own voice escaping the spine of the book.
She is a room full
of listening, lending herself
to her own words

a deep remembering of what was, she survives all.”
More quotes…