Naliyah Kaya



When asked who I am and what I do I find it hard to subscribe to any one definition; rather I define self as encompassing aspects of the artist, writer, poet, performer, eternal student, teacher, activist, and photographer. I cannot recall a time that I did not write; however it was not until college that I was introduced to performance poetry. After meeting Alive Poet, a fellow classmate, I joined our college writing/poetry group the Dead Poets and began performing under the pen name Soul D. (Spirit of Unconditional Loveā€¦ Deep) throughout the Seattle area. Alive and I, along with other artists and friends, would later found and host Essence of the Soul Open Mic and I would be published for the first time in Spindrift Art & Literary Journal.

During this time I also "taught" a creative writing class for the Black Prisoner's Caucus at the Washington State Reformatory- while I may have facilitated the class, at age 18 I hardly think I was teaching the men anywhere near as much as they were teaching me. My collaboration with the men resulted in a multidimensional presentation of their poetry- Food for the Soul Monroe Poetry Project- designed to bring their voices to the greater community as well as a poetry anthology entitled It's Not by Coincidence... It's by Design.

Upon completing my Associates' Degree I began my journey to the East Coast where I finished a Bachelor's degree in Sociology. After residing in the Hampton Roads Area for a few years, (performing at and experiencing the amazing talent of Fuzzy Wednesday's with Godchild and the Fuzz Band as well as my short stint as a member of Hampton's SPARK ONE poetry organization) I moved to the Washington DC metro area where I completed a Master's degree in Sociology.

Having spent a year teaching sociology in Birmingham, Alabama, I found my way back to the Washington metropolitan area where I finished my Ph.D. in Sociology focusing on spoken word performance poetry am currently teaching and working in student affairs at UMD.

I welcome you to sit back, relax, and contemplate... May you find inspiration.