Performing on HBO Presents Russell Simmons Def Poetry, helping on the Justice for Fong Lee Committee, or programming at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis, Bao Phi reminds us of the possibilities of engaged art. His award-winning slam poetry confronts us with the anger, tenderness, and wisdom of an urban griot's music. Or as scholar Greg Choy writes, "Bao Phi's poetry is unabashedly and unwaveringly all about being Asian American in the old activist sense of the term."
Born in Saigon and raised in the Philips neighborhood of South Minneapolis, this self-proclaimed "geek of color" melds together childhood memories, popular culture, and current events to reveal new angles and insights into the human condition. He is a two-time Minnesota Grand Slam champion and a National Poetry Slam finalist whose poem "Race" was anthologized in Best American Poetry 2006. In recognition of his community work, he was nominated for a Facing Race Ambassador award, and his Equilibrium series for the Loft Literary Center won the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits Anti-Racism Initiative Award. He has released several CDs of his poetry, including Refugeography and The Nguyens EP, and his first collection of poetry, Sông I Sing, was published by Coffee House Press in 2011.