A look into A’Ja Lyons’ performance of sexual memoirs


Monday Monologues

A’Ja Lyons will perform excerpts from upcoming sexual memoir next Monday for the first indoor Monday Monologues event of the year.

Writer and performer A’Ja Lyons will perform pieces from her upcoming sexual memoir dealing with sexuality, race and stereotypes at next week’s Monday Monologues.

Lyons will be performing from 12:15 to 1 p.m Monday at the Grant Wood Mural Lobby north of Bookends Cafe on the first floor of Parks Library.

The performance ‘Honey Wine from Creek Waters’ will include seven pieces altogether with four essays and three poems.

“Each one is related to my sexual development,” Lyons said. “A sexual experience I found particularly pleasing, humorous, devastating or a time and space in my life of great significance.”

Another major aspect of the pieces is the literature itself. Lyons, who also teaches English 150, explains that she wants students to think of words as an extension of themselves and wants students to leave the event thinking about literature in a new way.

“I want students to know that regardless of their experiences, positive or negative, we are water,” Lyons said. “Stagnancy for too long becomes unhealthy. Moving too fast for too far becomes unsafe. Boundaries shift over time, and it will all be okay.”

Throughout her performance, she will focus on a few different issues, such as struggles and stereotypes that many Black women face in society today.

“It’s a radical act for women, particularly Black women, to take control of narratives of our sexuality,” Lyons said.

Lyons emphasized that her work is not pornographic and sexuality can be expressed in different ways not equating to vulgarity. Sex, according to Lyons, does not need to be thought of in this way and has been exploited and commodified.

Imagery of the Mammy and Jezebel has been used to perpetuate stereotypes about Black women in American popular culture.

The Jezebel is an overly sexualized caricature of Black women, and the Mammy is a caricature of Black women as desexualized caretakers. The Jezebel has surpassed the Mammy as the dominant image of Black women in popular culture, according to Ferris State University’s Jim Crow Museum.

Bringing up issues with existing stereotypes, Lyons hopes to raise awareness through her work. Lyons’ goal is to show people that Black women are more than stereotypes by focusing on her experiences with sexuality and motherhood.

“I hope to subvert both stereotypes in my work as I share stories of motherhood, sexual experiences and sexual experiences as a mother through my own lens instead of the inaccurate, patriarchal, white supremacist gaze,” Lyons said.

Visit Lyons’ website to learn more about her work.