Recently, college student Rachel Rostad released her spoken word piece “A Letter to JK Rowling from Cho Chang” and as expected, she was bombarded with responses. Some argued angrily that she was being too harsh on Rowling and ignored Rowling’s very progressive points. Others argued that Rostad was merely calling attention to the bigger picture at hand.
Spoken word poet Sarah Kay may only be 23, but she is already a force to be reckoned with.
ISSUE: Spring 2012
To call Sarah Kay eloquent is an understatement. The 23-year-old spoken word poet is an articulate force of nature, blowing audience members away with each enunciated adjective, suspenseful pause and wave of her hand.
Kay, who is of Japanese and Jewish descent, discovered her love for words early on. “Before I knew how to write, I used to follow my mother around the house and yell, ‘Poem!’ until she wrote down my dictation. I think that’s why she taught me how to write early on, so I’d stop making her do it for me,” Kay laughs. One day, when Kay was 14, she found out she had been registered for the New York City Teen Poetry Slam; to this day, Kay has no clue who enrolled her. But the competition led her to New York’s famed Bowery Poetry Club, where she fell in love. “I came back every week even though I was the youngest person there by far. Every thing I saw thrilled me,” she remembers.
Eventually, Kay was persuaded to go onstage herself. “When you’re 14, you’re not told often that adults want to listen to you, and this was so different,” says Kay. Her performances eventually took her out of New York and to HBO’s Def Poetry Jam, the National Poetry Slam, France, South Africa and beyond.
The turning point in Kay’s career came at the 2011 TED Conference, where she mesmerized the audience
with her talk. “I definitely think that my life has divided into pre- and post-TED,” she says.
Though she’s been incredibly successful as a spoken word poet, don’t think that occupation will be Kay’s be-all-end-all. “My great love is writing,” says Kay. “It just so happens that this was the form that I discovered at the right time.” Currently, she’s getting her
master’s in education in order to strengthen her passion project, Project V.O.I.C.E., through which she and partner Phil Kaye teach poetry and self-expression at schools. Kay is also dabbling in other projects, including plays, illustrated books, documentaries, and photography. “I’m always trying to find the best way to tell each story,” she says. And at 23, it looks like Kay’s own story won’t be reaching The End
We called spoken word poet Sarah Kay an articulate force of nature in our Spring ’12 issue but you don’t receive the ultimate punch of her words until you hear and see her perform it for yourself.
The 23-year-old NY native, with her head full of curls and sunny dimpled grin, sucks us in the moment she speaks. She’s been a hit at 2011′s TED Conference and her hits keep coming. Check it out:
Hope her words leave you feeling inspired today!
Spoken word artist Kelly Zen-Yie Tsai was recently featured in our Spring 2011 issue for her notable and powerful performances. (I have had the good fortune to see her perform live, and it was amazing.)
Now you’ll get the chance to see her perform at the Say You Heard My Echo show commissioned by the Asian American Arts Alliance (A4).
“I don’t know why I feel like I have to have sex with other people than you. … My kisses on your neck may not be exclusive, but they’re not random either.” – Kelly Zen- Yie Tsai
ISSUE: Spring 2011
STORY: Anna M. Park
With spoken word poet Kelly Zen- Yie Tsai, what you hear is pretty much what you get.
“If I was the center of everything for a day everything would be aimed towards, dictated by, catered to, tailored for 5-foot-2 tattooed Asian females.”
“I don’t know why I feel like I have to have sex with other people than you. … My kisses on your neck may not be exclusive, but they’re not random either.”
“When it comes down to … whether my heart, my uterus, my tax return and my generation is gonna be governed by your sorry self, I would like to say that I’m real. I’m here. I’m voting. And believe me this girl is yellow.”* Continue Reading »
Kelly Zen-Yie Tsai is a talker — the 32-year-old spoken word poet of Chinese and Taiwanese descent does it for a living. You got a taste of some of her poetry in our Spring 2011 issue. Here, Kelly tells us more about what inspires her.
Audrey Magazine: Tell us a bit about your background.
Kelly Zen-Yie Tsai: I was born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago. I studied Urban Planning and Comparative Literature at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. I’ve been touring and performing nationally and internationally as a spoken word poet for over a decade. I currently live, work, and love in Brooklyn, New York.