Photo Credit: William James, Slam Free or Die
Maya Williams (she/hers, they/them, and ey/em) is a religious queer Black Mixed Race suicide survivor constantly writing poems. Maya is the seventh Poet Laureate of Portland, Maine.
She graduated with a Bachelors in Social Work and a B.A. in English in May 2017. She graduated with a community practice-focused Masters in Social Work and Certificate in Applied Arts and Social Justice at the University of New England in May 2018. She is currently in Randolph College's low residency Masters in Fine Arts for Creative Writing focusing on Poetry.
She has competed locally and nationally in slam since her freshman year at East Carolina University under the slam team Word of Mouth in Greenville, North Carolina. While with them, she has placed in the top 20 at the College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational (CUPSI) in 2015, and opened for folks such as Indira Allegra, Neil Hilborn, and Angela Davis.
They were a finalist of the Slam Free Or Die Qualifier Slam for their National Poetry Slam (NPS) 2018 team and a runner up of the Slam Free or Die Individual Slam Championship in 2018.
Maya was a semi-finalist for Nimrod International Journal's Francine Ringold Award in 2018, a finalist for Best of the Net in 2019, and a finalist for Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance's Chapbook Contest in 2019.
They have featured as a guest artist, panelist, and speaker in spaces such as The Mixed Remixed Festival in Los Angeles, California, The Interfaith Leadership Institute in Chicago, Illinois, Black Table Arts in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and The Kennedy Center's Arts Across America series.
Maya's sold out theatrical spoken word showcase "When Speaking to an Extraterrestrial" was described by PortFringe as "a performance that is at once mature and youthful, brave and frightened, angry and forgiving, wrenching and funny," an "intimate voice to the broader experiences of marginalized people", and is available to bring to your space if requested. It is a winner of PortFringe's Patron's Choice Awards.
You can find her sharing her poetry and hosting at Port Veritas Tuesday nights [now on Zoom since March 2020 until further notice], facilitating writing sessions at Quill Books and Beverage Sunday mornings [now on Zoom since March 2020 until further notice], leading workshops, and geeking out about the necessities of therapy online and off.
See the contact section on how to invite them to your next event as a workshop facilitator, performance feature, speaker, panelist, and/or honorary consensual virtual or air hugger. Maya's content covers racial identity, suicide awareness, mental health, faith, queerness, and healing.