[ full text available at Coffee House Press]
JANE KIM: First of all, congratulations on your first book! Your first book and your first daughter came around the same time.
BAO PHI: Thank you! Yeah, two major changes at once. Trying to raise my daughter has made the book, in some ways, easier. I have an easier time letting go of ideas than before. I don’t feel like I have to cram every poem I’ve written in this one book, you know?
Q: Most people know you as a spoken word artist and a slam poet champion. However, you have also done theater and work in arts administration as an organizer and curator. Of those, what have you enjoyed the most and why?
A: I love my job as curator and organizer of Equilibrium at The Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis. I created the series 8 years ago, and it’s my dream job: I curate and organize shows featuring spoken word artists of color, and connect them to local communities of color. The Loft, and artists and communities of color nationally and locally, have been really supportive and carried us through 8 years of stellar programming. That’s no small thing. We were one of the few arts organizations that has ever won the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits’ Anti-Racism Initiative Award.
Q: Part of why I love your work is that you have heart in everything you write and perform. You also seem to be on a mission through your poetry. You seem inspired to write beyond words. Can you talk about that?