Dr. Tonya Matthews (Ja Hipster)

 
Speaker: Dr. Tonya Matthews
 

Dr. Tonya MattewsDr. Tonya Matthews' doctoral studies in biomedical engineering, along with her passionate delivery, give her poetry a unique blend of intellect and pure entertainment.  Since becoming the BlackWords Grand Slam Champion in 1999,  Tonya's growing reputation as an extraordinary spoken word artist warranted performances alongside legends, Sonia Sanchez, Haki R. Madhubuti and Nikki Giovanni.

Recently (February 20, 2002), the Baltimore City Paper  featured her on its front page in a five-page article that describes her as:  "Aside from her scientific research, Matthews is also mulling over her writing career . . .   The thing that sets Tonya apart is that she goes beyond the stereotype of the angry black female poet . . .  She has the technique of a literary poet and the stage presence that allows her to convey literary messages in a performance manner without sacrificing the integrity of her art.  She's a phenomenon."

Black Issues Book Review was equally impressed: "Her poems are laced with irony and have a biting satirical edge that makes readers laugh aloud and nod their heads in agreement." January, 2002.

Tonya's poet-formances and workshops have traveled to organizations throughout the country, including the Austin Writers' League, the Maryland Center for the Book, Library of Congress and numerous college campuses.

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Aka "JaHipster"
 

DR. TONYA MARIE MATTHEWS'  known as JaHipster, shows a healthy balance of artist and intellect as she receives her doctorate in biomedical engineering while she roams the countryside sprouting poems of insightful passion.  Recently, the Baltimore City Paper (February 20, 2002) featured her on its front page in a five-page article that described her as:

"a studious-looking young woman, a (Johns) Hopkins grad student wearing jeans, a down  coat and  a big Jahipster no-no  - eyeglasses!  Sipping herbal tea to nurse a cold, Matthews mulls over chicks, which has something to do with (stem) cells and channels to the brain from the ear that signal noise overload.  "It's actually pretty simple to explain," she says and loses you from there.  Aside from her scientific research, Matthews is also mulling over her writing career . . .   The thing that sets Tonya apart is that she goes beyond the stereotype of the angry black female poet . . .  She has the technique of a literary poet and the stage presence that allows her to convey literary messages in a performance manner without sacrificing the integrity of her art.  She's a phenomenon."

With regional fame on the Baltimore-Washington poetry circuit, Tonya won her first east coast slam in 1998, became the BlackWords Grand Slam Champion in 1999, and then toured with the Washington, D.C. National Slam Team in 2000.  Her growing reputation as an extraordinary spoken word artist warranted a performance as featured poet alongside legends Sonia Sanchez and Haki R. Madhubuti on the Jazz Poetry Kafe CD.  She was honored to appear on stage with one of her role models, Nikki Giovanni.  She was also honored to study under Sonia Sanchez and receive the Hurston-Wright Writers' Fellowship 2002.

THESE HIPS, her first book, was published by BlackWords Publishing in 1999. 
STILL SWINGING is her latest collection of poetry, published in October 2001.  Black Issues Book Review was especially impressed: "Her poems are laced with irony and have a biting satirical edge that makes readers laugh aloud and nod their heads in agreement." January, 2002.

Tonya has used her creative skills to construct the POWORDFUL PEOPLE WORKSHOPS, tailored to varied age groups and focused on the science of writing, presentation and honest self-expression.  Her poet-formances and workshops have traveled to organizations throughout the country, including the Austin Writer's League, the Maryland Center for the Book, Library of Congress and numerous college campuses. 

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