Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Spoken Word Poets Ed Bok Lee and Bao Phi featured in Nice Star-Tribune Article

I'm not a spoken-word poet or slam poet, but I sure like hearing them when they're good. If you'd like, you can read a few of my thoughts about spoken-word poetry here. To appreciate such poetry, I think it helps to have some of the following: some urban experience or sensibilities (not necessarily a minority---i.e. Taylor Mali---but at least some guts to get up on stage and let it sling), something bothering you (be it racism, the state of the union, annoying drivers, class wars, etc.), and a former or current love of punk, folk, or hip-hop, tattoos and/or good books like this, this, and/or maybe this.

The spoken word poets I like write great poems, so I am able to love them (i.e. read them again and again, have to take a breath after certain powerful lines, sounds, and images, etc.) without ever hearing their voice. Then, sure, the reading can enhance it. I don't know a lot about the spoken-word scene, but I know there are some good ones here in Fresno (Anthony A. and the guy who read the hurricane poem at the fundraiser I organized, and the always awesome Devoya Mayo) and I really like Saul Williams, Bryonn Bain, Sam Pierstorff, and of course the unbelievable Ishle Yi Park.

But I'm writing this to encourage you to check out Bao Phi and Ed Bok Lee, two poets I've admired for a while now. I'm newer to Ed's poems, though I really like them. I love that they write about real things---race, love, connections and disconnections---and that they don't rely on some of the basic wit that I think weighs down so many poems of this genre.

If you read this good article on the two of them, you can find out about their backgrounds, what they're up to now, and visit their websites for sample poems, book and booking info, and more. Spread the word.

9 comments:

sarahkim said...

I first saw Ed and Bao perform together as Mongrel in Minneapolis in 2002....it was absolutely amazing, and I'm still a big fan. Great article!

Lee Herrick said...

must have been cool to see them back then! hey sarah, btw, i loved your writing about the mini. something you said struck me---how some KADs don't become as active the KAD community because of the ability/ fallback of the larger APIA community available. totally relates to me...anyway, this is kind of off topic, but i wanted to mention it to you. i am very bummed because i just spent about thrity minutes writing an entry about the development (for lack of a better term) of my political consciousness, and my internet connection got lost...ugh. i'll try to write it again tomorrow or the next day. i like how bao and ed both seem to have a nice amount of pride in their cultures.

mudeng said...

Lee, so great you are giving space and props to Ed and Bao. They are both fantastic to watch and experience. Someday, come to Minneapolis (or catch them on tour) and I promise you'll really enjoy what they have to say.

There is this fabulous poem Ed does with Kurt Kwan. Kurt plays the chongo (mangled spelling) while Ed performs. Lovely combination.

Oh, and at some of the spoken word performances there is karaoke. So great. Does that happen in your neck of the woods?

Lee Herrick said...

That performance must have been sweet. I think Ed recently read in Berkeley with Barbara Jane Reyes, but I couldn't make the drive up to the Bay Area, where a lot of good readings happen. Fresno has a decent spoken word scene, I think. There's a long running series called the Inner Ear Poetry Jam with good poets, and Fresno State often has readings. In June, Ishle Yi Park is reading, and in July, Saul Williams is coming. I usually frequent more mellow readings, but I'll definitely try to catch Ed and Bao when and if I get to Minneapolis. Hopefully it'll be sooner than later!

sarahkim said...

Looking forward to your new post! I think that thing about the APIA community and KADs....I'm pretty sure that's why there haven't been any strong KAD organizations to come out of California. I know that both SF and LA have had orgs for a long time, but they seem to get together very sparingly and don't really participate with the rest of the global KAD community. But we love having Cali folks come to mini-gatherings and the larger Gatherings! Hope to see you in 2007.....

Bryan Thao Worra said...

They're great guys- some of the real movers and shakers in the Midwest Asian American poetry scene. And Asian American poetics/spoken word in general.

They're always a treat, and I love working with them on different projects. They're very generous with their time, their talent and their spirit, and still down to earth.

Definitely let us know when you're up here.

Bao said...

Heya thanks for the props - Bryan Thao Worra, a grat poet in his own right, hipped me to this page. Thanks again and keep on keepin' on.

-Bao Phi

Lee Herrick said...

No sweat, Bao. Thanks for the note here, and if you're ever in or through Fresno, drop me a line.

Tim said...

FYI, check out the new edition of Best American Poetry, Bao Phi has a poem in it...he's definitely a poet to keep your eye on.