Poet Mayda del Valle has been described by the Chicago Sun Times as having, “a way with words. Sometimes they seem to flutter and roll off her lips. Other times they burst forth like a comet streaking across a nighttime sky ”. A proud native of the South Side of Chicago, she began performing her own writing while in high school and relocated to New York City after graduating from Williams College with a B.A. in Art.
One of del Valle’s first stops was the legendary Nuyorican Poet’s Cafe where she won the 2001 Nuyorican Grand Slam Championship. Also in 2001, she won the 2001 National Poetry Slam Individual Championship becoming the first poet from the Nuyorican, the youngest poet and the first Latina to win the title. Shortly after, she was chosen to perform on the first season of the HBO series Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry and since that time, she has been featured on six episodes. Del Valle was an original cast member and contributing writer of the critically acclaimed Tony award winning production of Russell Simmons Def Poetry Jam on Broadway, and toured internationally with the show. She was also a cast member of Norman Lear’s Declare Yourself Spoken Word Tour, a national, non-profit, non-partisan campaign created to encourage young voter participation in the 2004 presidential elections.
Del Valle also has made her mark outside the world of poetry. Her one woman show The Insecurities of an Eagle won an Audience Favorite Award at NYC’s 3rd Annual Downtown Urban Theatre Festival, and she recently premiered an excerpt of a new show Salida as part of the Living Word Festival, while an Artist in Residence with Youth Speaks. Del Valle has been featured in numerous publications including Urban Latino, Mass Appeal magazine, Latina magazine, Trace, The Source and the New York Times, and was named by Smithsonian magazine as one of America’s Young Innovators in the Arts and Sciences. Most recently, del Valle had the honor of being invited to perform for President Obama and First Lady at the White House.