LeJuane (El’Ja) Bowens is an award-winning spoken word poet, host, speaker, workshop facilitator, and author. Born in Detroit, Mich and raised in Lima, Ohio El’Ja joined the United States Army in 2000. During his six years of service, which included two deployments to Iraq, El’Ja began to commit his thoughts to paper. In 2005, at the urging of a friend, he posted several poems online. The positive feedback opened his eyes: poetry was his calling. Since then, he has since gone on to become the 2009 McDonald’s Food For Thought Poetry Slam Champion, 2010 ECU’s Survival of the Illest Poetry Slam and the 1st poet to have his work in the Obama Art Museum located in Raleigh, NC (the 1st and only of its kind in North Carolina).
In 2014, he was recognized as the 1st ever NC Poet to compete in three different Grand Slam Finals in three different cities & win ALL three slams(Fayetteville, Charlotte, and Durham) and, along with the Bull City Slam Team, won the 22nd Southern Fried Poetry Slam. In 2015, El’Ja was nominated for Spoken Word Artist of the Year at the 5th Annual National Poetry Awards.
He is one of the founders and is the director for the Southeastern Regional NC Poetry Festival held once a year in Fayetteville, NC and he is a featured poet on Poetry Slam Inc and All Def Poetry on YouTube.
El’Ja is also the author of the poetry books, ” So Many Things to Say: A Collection of Poems” “Anywhere…But Here”, and “Blerd Lines”. As of 2016, he was the recipient of the Rising Star Male Poet Award for the State of North Carolina and the overall recipient of the award for the 2016 GANSPA Awards. He is also host to an event called the Nerd Slam which he has done at the Southern Fried Poetry Slam, National Poetry Slam, and numerous ComicCon events across the US. He has performed at numerous festivals such as the Arts in the Heart of Augusta Festival, Big Ears Festival, and the National Folk Festival along with sharing the stage with the likes of poets such as Georgia Me, Sunni Patterson, and Shihan Van Clief.
Photo Credit to Sean Wright.
Participation at the 2019 West End Poetry Festival
- Curated open mic | Thursday, October 17 | 6:30 pm | Cats Cradle Back Room
For a full schedule and descriptions of all sessions, see the festival schedule.