Kelly Tsai is an award-winning spoken word poet and activist based in Brooklyn, NY, whose work addresses identity, culture, intersectional feminism, gender, domestic violence, sexual assault, Asian Pacific Islander American issues, voter enfranchisement, urban development, youth activism, war and non-violence.
In the last decade, the talented Chicago-native has performed or spoken at more than 600 venues in the U.S., Canada, China, England, France, Germany, Kenya, the Netherlands, and Trinidad. These venues include the White House, Nuyorican Poets Cafe, Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center, Apollo Theater in Harlem, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Brooklyn Museum of Art, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Idealist.org Campus Conference (2007), College Democrats National Convention (2008), Facing Race National Conference (2010), and the Campus Progress National Conference (2009, 2011). She has also been featured on Russell Simmons Presents HBO Def Poetry Seasons 4, 5, 6 and HBO’s East of Main Street: Asians Aloud (2010). She was a guest performer at Howard Zinn’s Voices of a People’s History with Harry Belafonte (2008), Tyra Banks’ Flawsome Ball hosted by Drake (2012), and Gloria Steinem’s Ms. Foundation Gloria Awards (2015). Americorps Alums recognized Kelly with a National Leader Award (2014) for her continued commitment to public service through the arts. In June 2016, she received a Woman of Distinction Award at the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders.
Kelly specializes in 20-60 minute keynote performances where she performs a range of spoken word poems and speaks on topical issues raised by those poems as tailored to that particular event and community. She also offers half-week and full-week residencies that integrate spoken word arts and activism workshops, poetry slam, dance, new media / technology, and performance with full participation by the presenter’s community. Innovative and interactive, Kelly’s work crosses multiple genres and issues.
Claremont McKenna 2016 Athenaeum Series