MoAD’s Poets-in-Residence program was founded in 2018 to provide writers with opportunities to respond to contemporary art of the African Diaspora and extend the reach of the museum through programming and educational workshops with local high school students.

The residency welcomes writers to pursue their own writing projects in addition to responding to MoAD’s current exhibitions. The residency requires that writers implement a school-based writing program in partnership with Ruth Asawa School of the Arts.

Residencies last for one academic semester or 4 months. The workshops include at least 6 site visits and one visit with students at the museum. There are also two culminating public programs: a student reading and a Poet-in-Residence reading.


The Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD) is pleased to announce our two new Poets-in-Residence for Fall 2023.

Join us in welcoming Thea Matthews and Ashia Ajani -

The four-month residency runs from September-December, and welcomes two writers to the Museum to immerse themselves in the current exhibitions and pursue their own writing projects in response to the art on view. Both poets will partner with Ruth Asawa School of the Arts in San Francisco to implement a school-based writing program and teach poetry workshops at the highschool.

Thea Matthews, PhotoCredit-Coskun Caglayan

Thea Matthews is a poet and educator of African and Indigenous Mexican descent born andraised on Ohlone land, San Francisco, California. She holds an MFA in poetry from New YorkUniversity and earned her BA in sociology at the University of California, Berkeley. Her poetryhas appeared in or is forthcoming in Epiphany Magazine, Obsidian Lit & Arts in the AfricanDiaspora, The Cortland Review, West Trade Review, Southern Indiana Review, Tahoma LiteraryReview, Interim, The New Republic, Foglifter Journal, and others. She has been nominated forBest New Poets in 2022 and Best of the Net in 2021. Her collaboration with micro press &reading series Red Light Lit led to the publication of her first book Unearth [The Flowers] in 2020,listed as part of Kirkus Reviews’ Best Indie Poetry of 2020. She has taught creative writing at theuniversity level, as well as through organizations such as the Writing Salon. Currently, Thea is awriting coach, a workshop facilitator, and an assistant content producer at the Academy ofAmerican Poets. She lives on the land of the Lenape, Brooklyn.

Ashia Ajani, photo by Sidney SH

Ashia Ajani is a sunshower, a glass bead, a carnivorous plant, an overripe nectarine hailing fromDenver, CO, Queen City of the Plains and the unceded territory of the Cheyenne, Ute, andArapahoe peoples. Ajani is a lecturer in the AfAm Department at UC Berkeley and a climateresilient schools educator with Mycelium Youth Network. A BSF Award recipient, Ajani hasreceived fellowships from Just Buffalo Literary Center, Tin House, The Watering Hole, UCBerkeley’s P4P Climate Activism Residency and the Milkweed Hub Chrysalis Institute. Ajani is co-poetry editor of the Hopper Literary Magazine. Ajani’s writing is a kaleidoscope of their work asan eco-griot and abolitionist. Their debut poetry collection, Heirloom (Write Bloody Publishing),is out now.

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