O, Miami and The Marjory Stoneman Douglas Biscayne Nature Center are proud to present the annual Marjory Stoneman Douglas Poetry Award. Each April, during the O, Miami Poetry Festival, one South Florida poet is selected who represents qualities that reflect Marjory Stoneman Douglas and the legacy she left behind in South Florida. The inaugural recipient (2018) was Jaswinder Bolina.

What we look for in an awardee

  • Be an advocate

  • Be politically conscious and politically active

  • Be outspoken 

  • Be a fearless crusader 

  • Be a natural preservationist/conservationist

  • Care deeply about the world

  • Be a writer or poet

O, Miami and The Marjory Stoneman Douglas Biscayne Nature Center are proud to announce Aja Monet as the 2019 award winner. 

Aja Monet was selected for her dedication to using poetry as a tool for change. Through her words and her work with Smoke Signals, Poetry for the People, and Exchange for Change, Aja has helped galvanize the Miami community to address issues of injustice. As co-founder of Smoke Signals, a recording studio and safe space for people of color, she's created a springboard for community activism & art making. Aja's workshops with Voices: Poetry for the People focus on unifying and empowering Miami residents through art and poetry, with a special emphasis on reaching Spanish- and Creole-speaking communities. As a teacher within the prison system, Aja has asserted the basic humanity of every Floridian. 

Aja Monet is a Caribbean American poet, performer, and educator. In 2018, Aja Monet’s first full collection of poetry, My Mother Was A Freedom Fighter, was nominated for an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work. She read the title poem of her collection at the National Women’s March on Washington DC in 2017 to commemorate women of the Diaspora. Aja has independently published several chapbooks including Inner-City Chants & Cyborg Cyphers (2014) and The Black Unicorn Sings (2010). In 2012, she collaborated with poet/musician Saul Williams on the book Chorus: A Literary Mixtape, an anthem of a new generation of poets. A past winner of the legendary Nuyorican Poet’s Café Grand Slam title, Aja currently lives in Little Haiti, Miami where she is a co-founder of Smoke Signals Studio, a community collective dedicated to music, art, culture, and community organizing. Inspired by poet June Jordan’s revolutionary blueprint, she facilitates “Voices: Poetry for the People,” a poetry workshop for grassroots community organizers and leaders. The workshop created the first annual Maroon Poetry Festival in Liberty City, Miami, to honor elder cultural workers for their commitment to radical truth-telling. She was a featured speaker at TEDWomen 2018 for her meaningful work in South Florida with Smoke Signals Studio.


2019 recipient, Aja Monet