Sol-Legacy Magazine


July 2024

Welcome to Sol-Caritas' captivating exploration of the minds of extraordinary individuals. In this exclusive interview, we invite you to delve deep into the thoughts, experiences, and perspectives of Ajali, a person whose story is both captivating and inspirational. Join us as we embark on a journey to uncover the intricacies of her life, her passions, and her aspirations. Together, we'll shine a spotlight on her unique insights, accomplishments, and the wisdom she has gathered along her remarkable path. Prepare for an engaging conversation that is sure to leave you inspired, enlightened, and eager to draw from the well of her extraordinary journey.


Ajali, how did your poetry journey begin?

I started writing poetry when I was seven years old. My journey with spoken word began in 1996, when I was 29. That year, my father, my sister-in-law, and I began working on our first book, “Tapestries of the Soul ~ Homosapien’s Path.” We published it in 1999.

Could you tell us about the key themes or subjects that frequently inspire your poetry?

Injustice, God, and love are the main themes of my art. These topics truly capture the joy and pain of my soul. Through my work, I explore the deep complexities of fairness, spirituality, and emotional connections. Each piece is a reflection of my personal experiences and the universal truths that resonate with others. My art serves as a dialogue between my inner world and the audience, inviting viewers to ponder their own experiences with these profound themes. Whether it's a poem, a painting, or a performance, my aim is to evoke feelings and provoke thought, bridging the gap between personal anguish and collective understanding.

Many poets have unique rituals and routines when they write. Could you share your creative process and any specific habits that enhance your writing?

Music: I enjoy listening to artists like Erykah Badu, Lalah Hathaway, and Marvin Gaye. Their music often inspires my writing.

Scent: My favorite scents are sandalwood, frankincense, and myrrh. These aromas help me focus and enhance my creative environment.

Research: When I have a specific topic for my writing, I thoroughly research the subject to understand it better and provide accurate information in my work.

Inspiration: If something significant happens in the world or in my family, I seek clarity by turning to the Bible. I write based on the insights and messages I receive in those moments, allowing my immediate thoughts and feelings to guide my writing process. This approach helps me connect deeper with my readers, sharing not just facts but also profound personal reflections.

How has your poetry evolved over time, and what role does it play in your life today?

My artistry has evolved from writing short 2-3 minute poetry pieces to creating full-length plays. I established a poetry play production company called "poACTry Productions" to further explore this form of expression. Together with other creative minds, I have written six plays. This collaborative environment allows us to blend various artistic styles and perspectives, enriching our productions and providing audiences with powerful and engaging theatrical experiences. Each play aims to capture the essence of poetry while telling compelling stories that resonate with people from all walks of life.

Do you have any memorable or particularly meaningful experiences related to your poetry?

I stopped performing in 2003 when my father passed away suddenly from a massive heart attack. He was not only my biggest supporter but also the only person I trusted to read my poetry, both in its early stages and when I felt it was complete. He provided creative criticism that helped me broaden my ideas and translate them onto paper effectively. After his death, it took me nine years to approach a microphone again, which wasn't until 2012. During this time, I began to envision poetic stage plays, a new direction for my creative expression.

This period also marked a significant personal milestone when I met a man who loved me unconditionally, much like my father did. He supported my artistic journey, offering honest feedback about what worked and what didn't. His honesty and encouragement played a crucial role in my return to the stage and helped shape the new phase of my career in theater.

Can you share some of the challenges you've faced during your journey and how you've overcome them?

Losing my father was the biggest challenge I've faced. He was the only person I trusted with my poetry, both in its early stages and when I thought it was complete. His feedback was crucial, helping me expand my vision and bring my ideas to life on paper. After his sudden death, it took me nine years before I could stand in front of a microphone again. This happened in 2012, which was also when I started to conceive poetic stage plays in my mind. Around this time, I met a man who loved me unconditionally, just like my father. He supported my artistic endeavors, providing honest feedback that was invaluable.

My second biggest challenge arose with COVID-19. After contracting the virus, I experienced memory loss, which was particularly devastating as a spoken word artist—it felt as if I had forgotten how to write. Thankfully, I did not suffer from severe physical health effects like heart or lung issues, but the impact on my ability to recall and create was deeply distressing.

Both of these challenges required immense resilience and prayer. Pushing through these tough times taught me about the strength of the human spirit and the power of perseverance in the face of adversity.

Poetry can be a powerful form of social commentary. Have ever used your poetry to address specific social or political issues? If so, could you share your thoughts on the intersection of poetry and activism?

Yes, I have utilized my poetry to address social and political issues. In discussing this, I also want to mention comedy, as both art forms have historically helped our communities bridge the painful gap between our past experiences and our potential for the future. Comedy brings about laughter, which can open people’s eyes to reality, while poetry delivers impactful "mind punches" that similarly awaken awareness of the truth.

My initial inspiration in poetry was Gil Scott-Heron, who, from a young age, taught me the immense power of words and the significance of each one. Listening to his albums, played often by my father, encouraged me to explore other influential authors like Nikki Giovanni, Zora Neale Hurston, Audre Lorde, Toni Morrison, and Gwendolyn Brooks. These authors deepened my understanding of how poetry can vividly capture and critique our societal conditions, inspiring change and introspection through their profound narratives and insights.

Activism often requires collaboration and networking. Can you share some of the partnerships and collaborations you’ve built in your work, and how they have contributed to your success?

Working with IAG Productions has marked my latest venture into activism. Felicia Martin, the CEO of IAG, has been a part of poACTry Productions since its inception in 2012. She has played a crucial role in guiding our creative direction and amplifying our voice in the community.


Additionally, I have collaborated with other artists in the community to advocate for social justice. This includes partnerships with notable figures like Snow Industries, Angela Olivia Guillory, Black Poet, Sunny C’Light, and Pumpkin from Pluto, among many others. These collaborations have enriched our collective efforts, allowing us to use art as a powerful tool to address and highlight important social issues. Through these partnerships, we've been able to create impactful art that not only entertains but also educates and provokes thought about the challenges we face as a society.

What role do you believe technology and social media play in modern activism, and how do you leverage these tools to your advantage?

The digital influence on all forms of media, including TV, radio, and print, is enormous! In today's world, technology is the main way people get their daily information. When you want to promote a cause or address an injustice, start by reaching out to your immediate friend group—this is your first audience.

After that, target a specific audience based on demographics (age, interests, etc.) or geography. This means finding the people most likely to be interested in or affected by the cause you're supporting.

Before you commit to any cause, it's essential to do thorough research. You should understand who is involved, why the cause is important, any potential backlash, and, importantly, where the funding is coming from and going to. Knowing these details will help you make informed decisions and effectively support or advocate for your chosen cause.

Can you share a success story or a specific moment in your activism that you feel had a significant positive impact on your community?

This response relates to my work but is driven by a deep passion for justice. During the tragic event of George Floyd's death, my company decided to support the movement against injustice. This period coincided with the COVID-19 shutdown, which shifted the focus heavily onto my department—digital marketing and advertising. As the overseer of all digital initiatives for Urban One's local radio sales, I had significant input in the content we promoted.

Our content writers are excellent and fulfilled their roles superbly, but my team also played a crucial role in supporting these efforts. There were instances where we chose to decline certain funds because they did not align with our ethical standards—what we considered "good money."

One challenge during this time involved the political-based advertising we had to accept. As a publicly traded company, we are required to give all political advertisers equal opportunity to share their voice. This obligation sometimes conflicted with our personal values and the broader social justice goals we supported, creating a complex situation that we had to navigate carefully.

Do you have any mentors, professors, or individuals who have had a specific impact on your personal growth?

In the realm of poetry, Angela Olivia Guillory has been a significant mentor. Her guidance and insights have deeply influenced my understanding and appreciation of poetry, helping me hone my craft with greater sensitivity and skill.

In life, Muriel Funches has played a crucial role. She has taught me valuable life lessons and provided support through various personal challenges. Her wisdom and encouragement have been fundamental to my growth as a person.

On a spiritual level, Darya Funches has been instrumental. Her spiritual guidance has helped me navigate my spiritual journey, offering perspectives and teachings that have enriched my spiritual understanding and practice.

Each of these mentors has uniquely contributed to different aspects of my life, shaping my development in their special ways.

What advice would you offer to aspiring poets who are looking to find their own voice and style in the world of poetry?

If I were guiding someone on how to find their own voice in writing, I would start by asking them who they are and what they believe in. Understanding the answers to these questions is crucial because it helps them discover their unique perspective. We might all write about similar topics, but we express our thoughts differently due to our individual experiences with those topics.

Here are three pieces of advice I would offer:

Stay True to Yourself: I would emphasize the importance of being honest with oneself and faithful to one's own perceptions. This authenticity will make their writing more genuine and relatable.

Be Unapologetic in Your Truth: I would encourage them to express their views boldly and confidently, without feeling the need to apologize for their opinions. This unapologetic approach helps establish a strong, clear voice.

Defend Your Words: Lastly, I would advise them to be ready to support their choices of words and ideas with explanations and research. Being well-prepared to discuss and defend their work adds credibility and depth to their writing.

Reflecting on your academic and extracurricular activities, is there a particular accomplishment or project that you're especially proud of?

I'm extremely proud of myself for achieving two significant milestones recently. The first is returning to school and earning my college degree, which I accomplished right around my 50th birthday. This was a challenging journey, but it proved to me that it's never too late to pursue education and personal growth.

Additionally, I'm proud of my latest accomplishment—finishing my book, "Crossroads of the Heart," which I completed right on schedule by the deadline of December 31, 2023. Writing this book was a demanding process that required a lot of dedication and hard work. It feels great to have met my goal and to see all my efforts come to fruition in the form of a published work. These achievements are not just milestones but are also sources of motivation for me to keep setting and reaching new goals.

Are there any upcoming projects or events you'd like to share?

I have set some exciting goals for my upcoming projects, which I am eager to achieve:

1) Book Release: The book I recently finished, "Crossroads of the Heart," is scheduled to be published and released by April 2024. This will be a significant milestone as it marks the debut of my work to the public.

2) Sequel Completion: I am also working on a sequel to "Crossroads of the Heart," which I plan to finish by December 31, 2024. This sequel will continue the story, delving deeper into the themes and characters that readers will meet in the first book.

3) New Play: Additionally, I aim to have my next play written and ready to be performed on stages by January 2025. This play will be a new creative venture, exploring unique themes and showcasing dynamic characters, designed to engage and captivate audiences.

These projects are not just about meeting deadlines; they represent my growth as a writer and my commitment to sharing my stories and visions with the world. Each project pushes me to hone my craft further and connect with my audience in meaningful ways.

 Are you a member of any special affiliates or organizations?

I am actively involved in several distinguished organizations, each of which plays a significant role in my personal and professional development:

Order of the Eastern Star, Queen of Sheba Grand Chapter: I am a proud member of this organization, which focuses on charitable work, community service, and fostering fellowship among its members.

Tau Beta Sigma, National Honorary Band Sorority: As a member of this national sorority, I participate in activities that support and promote college and university bands. This involvement not only allows me to contribute to the arts but also to develop leadership skills and engage in community service.

American Women in Television and Radio: This group supports women in the media industry. Being part of this organization has given me access to networking opportunities, professional development resources, and the chance to support other women in my field.

Each of these organizations helps me to grow, network, and give back to the community in meaningful ways.


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