An Asian American we think is awesome is Sarah Kay.
Sarah Kay is a 27 year old Japanese-Jewish-American spoken word poet from Brooklyn, New York. She got her Masters Degree in The Art of Teaching from Brown University. She is also the founder and co-director of Project V.O.I.C.E. Project V.O.I.C.E is an outreach program with the goal to help students find a voice within themselves through poetry. She and a team of fellow poets have traveled all over the world to advocate this form of a creative outlet for people to find themselves through educating and inspiring these young minds, encouraging them that they have a story to tell. She is the author of B, No Matter the Wreckage and her latest single-poem volume, The Type.
Sarah Kay-“The Type”
Her spoken word piece, “The Type” is relevant to what we have been discussing about Asian American women in the media and their need to have this sense of agency in challenging these expectations of how women are subjugated by men.
During Sarah Kay’s visit to Nepal, she performed at the Kopila Valley Children’s Home and Primary School. She was shocked to find that these young orphans were not only exposed to a high suicide rate, but that they had become numb to the loss of life. In Nepal the leading cause of death among women ages 15-49 is suicide. Kay immediately decided to take action to work with girls and young women in the School. Usually Kay uses spoken word poetry to encourage youth to participate in self-expression (Project VOICE*), but in Nepal she began to host workshops to develop a sense and reclaiming of self-worth among girls/young women. As a result the group of women Kay taught called themselves Word Warriors of Nepal. Word Warriors of Nepal has since led a “grass roots movement” in Nepal to demonstrate the significance of spoken word poetry. Word Warriors aims to not only promote freedom of self-expression among members, but to also develop confidence and critical thinking skills.
Kay’s involvement in Nepal is a reflection of a subversive form of art, in that she taught young Asian women literacy and writing skills. The formation of Word Warriors serves to counteract the notion and stereotype that Asian women are quiet, passive, and lack power and control. Rather, Kay’s workshops served to provide Nepalese women with the confidence to express themselves, and to find a sense of self-worth and agency in their lives. When asked what is most significant about spoken word poetry, Kay shares her mission which is: “I want to build a population of people who have the ability to listen to someone else’s outlook and experience, to bear witness to what someone else is going through, to learn empathy.” Sarah Kay alone is an example of the ways in which Asian American women can develop strength and independence through a creative outlet. Kay is an example of a powerful women with agency!
If you wanna learn more about Sarah Kay (because you know you do) check out our tumblr page dedicated to her and all her inspiring work!
Brought to you by Perlita Contridas and Kary Tran