Maria James-Thiaw is a gifted literary artist with a unique talent for translating story into poetry, and weaving poetry into a virtual quilt of social justice-themed spoken word for the stage.

Her publications include poetry and reviews in several literary journals such as New Letters, Cutthroat Journal of the Arts, One Trick Pony Review, and Black Magnolias, as well as a spoken word CD entitled FREEverse. Her poems have been featured in Black Lives Have Always Mattered, Come Shining: On Writing in A Dark Time, and other anthologies, and in the following collections:

As a performance poet, Maria gracefully bridges the gap between stage and page by delivering her well-crafted lyric poetry with the dramatic power of a seasoned spoken word artist.

The Choreopoems

A choreopoem is a play written in poetic form. In March, 2018 her choreopoem, Reclaiming My Time: An American Griot Project sold out 6 times, touching audiences with her poetic interpretation of real women’s stories from the Jim Crow era. Poetry from this choreopoem won the Art of Protest Poetry Prize from the Center for American Literary Studies at Penn State University.

With Reclaiming My Time director Janet Bixler, Maria James-Thiaw has now infused her passion for writing and the arts with her 18+ years of teaching experience into a new venture: Reclaim Artist Collective, a soon-to-be nonprofit organization that will serve marginalized communities, emerging artists, and schools with affordable theater and literary arts programming,  large theatrical productions, and intimate creative workshops. In 2019 RAC teamed up with Sankofa African American Theatre Company to produce Bridge {The Gap} and in 2020 they released RMT 2.0, a digital version of the original Reclaiming My Time.

May, 4, 2023 was the opening night for the next choreopoem in the American Griot Series: HairStory: Reclaiming Our Crown.  Featuring a cast of 13 dynamic actors,  HairStory is a choreopoem about a woman’s journey from conformity to radical self-love.

Maria’s writing style is unique; Her choreopoems are based on the stories “griots” or storytellers give her. She translates them into poetic form and brings them to life on stage. This touches audiences in a personal way because all of her powerful poems come from the hearts of real individuals who had real experiences. In a recent review, Andrea Stephenson wrote:

“This production is a powerful piece of visual and performance art that tells a story that is filled with passion, emotion, and the convergence of past, present, and hope for the future. ”  Read the full article here. 

To stay informed about publications, plays, and events where you can meet the author, Maria James-Thiaw, enter your email below. (We will never sell, spam, or use your information for other purposes.)

Cover art designed by Shannon High-Patterson.

3 thoughts on “About”

  1. http://mentalnotes1.wordpress.com/2013/07/21/2264/

    Thanks for the work shop friday night, here is the finish product.

  2. Lawrence wilson said:

    What if peace was a feeling ?
    What object would reflect that feeling?
    The pictures of the south of France must be the object.

    Lawrence Wilson

  3. Maria, I absolutely love your site! Keep up the great work!
    Nicole Sharp

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