Spoken word artist expresses heritage through poetry


When most people picture spoken word artists, they see dark clothing and a dimly lit bar. They hear bongo drums and snapping fingers in lieu of applause.

These days, a web search for “spoken word art” or “slam poetry” will show you performances covering topics ranging from body image to technology to messages to J.K. Rowling. This summer, a video of a performance of a poem called “OCD” went viral, gaining news coverage from NPR, Huffington Post and several social media sites.

Kelly Tsai, a spoken word artist, performed several poems at 9:30 p.m. March 4 in the CUB Red Zone. Fourteen people attended the event. Tsai’s performance was sponsored by the women’s center, APB and women and gender studies.

Several of Tsai’s pieces explored her Asian-American heritage. In her poem “Self Centered,” Tsai discussed what the world would be like if it were run by “5 foot 2 tattooed Asian females.”

Tsai said this alternative universe would involve “healing wounds with family members overseas while fighting for fair wages with factory workers around the world, which would be easy since all of the governments would be run by 5-foot-2 tattooed Asian females…we’d match our lip gloss to our fair trade boots and throw a dance party every time we signed a truly revolutionary bill.”

“It is ridiculous to think of a world that’s run by 5-foot-2 tattooed Asian females, but you know what’s also ridiculous? That the world is so centered around any one particular experience” Tsai said about “Self Centered.”

“Any kind of ism — whether we’re talking about homophobia, or racism or classism — really comes, I think, from that intense sense of narcissism” Tsai said.

The event was free to SU students, $5 for non-SU students, $8 for faculty and staff and $10 for the general public. The event was originally scheduled to be held in the CUB MPR.

For more information about Kelly Tsai, or to view her work, visit http://www.yellowgurl.com/ or http://www.youtube.com/user/Kztsai.

Comments powered by Disqus

Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Slate.