Aziza Barnes

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Aziza Barnes is an American poet.[1] Barnes frequently performs slam poetry and has performed at the Da Poetry Lounge, Urban Word NYC, PBS NewsHour and Nuyoricans Poets Cafe.[2]


Barnes received their B.A from the New York University at the Tisch School of the Arts.[3] They received their MFA from the University of Mississippi.[4]


Barnes is the author of the chapbook me Aunt Jemima and the nailgun (2013), which won an Exploding Pinecone Prize from Button Poetry.[5] Their full-length collection, i be but i ain’t (2016), won a Pamet River Prize from YesYes Books.[6] They are the cofounder of the Poetry Gods podcast and the co-founder of The Conversation Literary Festival.[7][8] Barnes wrote the play BLKS that played at Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago.[9] Their upcoming collection, The Blind Pig will be released by Not A Cult media.[10]


BLKS centers around the story of four black millennial friends, Octavia, June, Ry and Imani, who share a New York City apartment.[11] The play has been determined a "comedic social realism" and is a "day in the life" style of work.[12] The production has been compared to the TV Show Girls.[13] BLKS was originally their final thesis project at NYU.[14]

Actors Nora Carroll (Octavia), Leea Ayers (June), Danielle Davis (Ry) and Celeste M. Cooper (Imani) performed in the Steppenwolf's Theatre Company's rendition of BLKS.[12][15] The show was directed by Nataki Garrett and artistic director Anna D. Shapiro. The show debuted on December 18, 2017,[16] and ran through January 28, 2018.


  • 2015 Winter Tangerine Award[17][18]
  • 2013 NYU Grey Art Gallery Prize for Radical Presence
  • Emerging Poets fellowship at Poets House[19]
  • Cave Canem Fellow[20]
  • Antonyo Award for Best Play for BLKS [21]

Personal life[edit]

Barnes is a queer black poet.[12] They are originally from Los Angeles.[2] Barnes was born with a polycystic ovary and as such grows facial hair. They use they/their/them pronouns.[12]

Barnes currently lives in Los Angeles, California.[22]


  1. ^ "5 Poems – [PANK]". [PANK]. Retrieved 2018-08-23.
  2. ^ a b "A Queer Black Poet's Quest for Liberation". Vice. 2017-06-03. Retrieved 2018-08-23.
  3. ^ Lichtenstein, Jesse (2018-08-12). "How Poetry Came to Matter Again". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2018-08-23.
  4. ^ Barnes, Aziza (2016-08-19). "Aziza Barnes". Aziza Barnes. Retrieved 2018-08-23.
  5. ^ "Aziza Barnes". Poetry Foundation. Poetry Foundation. 2018-08-23. Retrieved 2018-08-23.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  6. ^ "YesYes Books | Home | Product Page". YesYes Books | Home. Retrieved 2018-08-23.
  7. ^ "The Vernacular Music of Aziza Barnes' i be but i ain't". Electric Literature. 2016-11-25. Retrieved 2018-08-23.
  8. ^ "The Next Generation of Black Poets: Cave Canem Fellows and Friends | African American Poetry & Poetics | University of Pittsburgh". Retrieved 2018-08-23.
  9. ^ "Robert O'Hara Will Direct New York Premiere of Aziza Barnes' BLKS | Playbill". Playbill. Retrieved 2018-08-23.
  10. ^ "Aziza Barnes, Author at Not a Cult". Not a Cult. Retrieved 2018-08-24.
  11. ^ Lola, Candice (2018-01-12). "Aziza Barnes' "BLKS" Delivers a Gorgeous Snapshot of Real Life That You'd Better Not Miss". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2018-08-23.
  12. ^ a b c d Hayford, Justin. "Aziza Barnes's BLKS needs to take itself more srsly". Chicago Reader. Retrieved 2018-08-23.
  13. ^ Vitello, Barbara (2017-12-20). "20-somethings negotiate friendship, intimacy in Steppenwolf's uneven 'BLKS'". Daily Herald. Retrieved 2018-08-23.
  14. ^ "Poet And Playwright Aziza Barnes Brings 'BLKS' To Steppenwolf". WBEZ. Retrieved 2018-08-23.
  15. ^ Tube, Stage. "VIDEO: Behind the Scenes with BLKS Playwright Aziza Barnes". Retrieved 2018-08-23.
  16. ^ Tube, Stage. "VIDEO: Behind the Scenes with BLKS Playwright Aziza Barnes". Retrieved 2018-08-23.
  17. ^ "The Conversation". Winter Tangerine. Archived from the original on 2018-08-24. Retrieved 2018-08-23.
  18. ^ "My Dad Asks "How Come Black People Can't Just Write About Flowers?"". Winter Tangerine. Retrieved 2018-08-23.
  19. ^ "Neyat Yohannes on "i be, but i ain't," by Aziza Barnes". VAGABOND CITY. 2017-02-02. Retrieved 2018-08-23.
  20. ^ "Voices of Bettering American Poetry 2015 — Lauren Russell | VIDA: Women in Literary Arts". Retrieved 2018-08-23.
  21. ^ Appler, Michael. "Audra McDonald, LaChanze & Celia Rose Gooding Win at Broadway Black's Inaugural Antonyo Awards". Variety. Retrieved 20 June 2020.
  22. ^ "Issue Twenty: A Conversation with Aziza Barnes | The Adroit Journal". The Adroit Journal. Retrieved 2018-08-23.