Asali Njeri DeVan is a mother, educator, event producer, spoken word artist, and community servant. She is the co-founder and Executive Producer of the Akoben Words-In-Action Festival, a four-day poetry and community service event in New Orleans and teaches spoken word, social justice, and service learning at Tulane University. Asali has performed her brand of "activist poetry" and conducted workshops for universities, conferences, and slam venues across the country, and is highly sought as a speaker on community development issues. She is also the coordinator of the Congo Square African Marketplace at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, the largest music and arts festival in the world. No matter her endeavor, Asali continually seeks opportunities to forward her mission of creating a platform for societal change through art and her vision of social justice for all humanity.
Most know her by her many pursuits, but the way writer Asali DeVan knows herself and the world around her, is through her exploration of the “word”. Rooted in the cultural soil of New Orleans and watered by the writings of her literary idols, Kalamu ya Salaam, Sonia Sanchez, and Toni Morrison, Asali has grown to bask in the sun of her literary heritage-from the sages who transformed pharaoh to God in Ancient Khemet, to the spy boys who chant the way clear for their big chiefs on Mardi Gras day. Having had the privilege of presenting on stages and in classrooms across the country, Asali DeVan is currently creating her definitive work.
In January 2008, Asali was presented with the 2008 Vagina Warrior Award at the Glamour Magazine V-Day 10th Anniversary Luncheon and kick-off leading to V to the Tenth celebration in New Orleans on April 11-12, 2008. Her examination of how the flood of 2005 transformed the lives of women in the Gulf Coast is included in Swimming Upstream, a play she co-authored with a distinguished group of New Orleans women writers. Swimming Upstream will have its premiere at the Superdome during V to the Tenth.