Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Our feature for the night will be Sonya Renee! 

Sonya Renee is easily the most distinguished, accomplished and recognizable female in the world of Slam Poetry, and rightly so. After a meteoric rise to poetry superstardom in 2004, Sonya has redefined the role and impact of women in slam since her whirlwind arrival on the scene, consistently ranking at the top of every major national and international poetry slam every year since then. Sonya’s success can be attributed to her commitment to writing poetry that stays true to her roots as a social activist and women’s rights advocate. The socially conscious wordsmith became the National Poetry Slam Champion only 4 months into her slam career in ’04, and followed this amazing achievement with back to back top 8 finishes at the Individual World Poetry Slam Championship, a 2nd place finish at the International Poetry Slam Championship in 2005, and a 1st place finish at the Four Continents European International Slam Championship in 2006. Sonya put her socially conscious words into action by performing in front of over 1 million spectators in Washington D.C. alongside presidential candidate Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton at a historic 2004 March for Women’s Lives Rally. Her work has appeared in several publications, translated into Dutch and German and has most recently appeared in the book Growing Up Girl: An Anthology of Voices from Marginalized Spaces and Spoken Word Revolution: Redux.

Her poetry has been used as curriculum at the University of Santa Barbara, as an HIV education resource with HIV Campus Education and as Artist for Choice with Choice USA, the reproductive rights organization started by Gloria Steinem and numerous undergraduate papers, forensic and debate teams. The First Lady of Slam has also seen commercial success with appearances on HBO’s Def Poetry Jam, and the hit reality series “Monique’s F.A.T Chance” on the Oxygen Network. With all her success, Sonya has still found time to devote herself to the causes she has fought for since her teenage years, even earning her Master’s in Non-profit Management. She has held every position from peer educator to trainer, to director for numerous organizations around the country confronting issues including; at-risk youth, HIV/AIDS, prostitution, incarceration, and inequality. She currently serves as the Capacity Building and Training Director for the Black AIDS Institute in Los Angeles, CA and serves on the National Board of Directors for the arts and activism organization, Blackout Arts Collective. All the while, Sonya has toured the globe, performed at numerous colleges, universities, public venues, and clubs as a champion of Human Rights and an International Award Winning Poet.

Sonya’s poetry is blunt, raw, and poignant. She speaks the truth with no mixed words and challenges society to face its deepest and most long-lived ills with strength, courage and sometimes a lot of laughter. In the same light, her work also reflects a checkered childhood overcoming a family riddled with drug addiction and mental illness, and dealing with the reality of living completely on her own from the age of 17. Her past has made her the beacon of strength and beauty that shines so brightly today every time she blesses a mic. Sonya Renee is not only the voice of every woman, but of humanity. From the neglected to the powerful, from the downtrodden to the triumphed, they all speak through her... and her voice will not soon fade. Sometimes all that is left is to get Real!

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