WINONA, Minn. — As part of its annual college convocation Tuesday, Sept. 12, Saint Mary’s University is hosting an interactive presentation by Bao Phi, a Vietnamese American poet, writer, and community activist.

Phi’s emotional and thought-provoking presentation—titled “Why Poetry, Why Now?”—is free and open to the public beginning at 7 p.m. in the university’s Page Theatre. A performance poet since 1991, Phi uses his art to touch on subjects like race, class, love, and violence in his own life and in Asian-American communities. Born in SaigonVietnam, he grew up in the Phillips neighborhood of South Minneapolis. He is currently program director at the Loft Literary Center, where he started as a receptionist 15 years ago.

A two-time Minnesota Grand Slam champion and a National Poetry Slam finalist, he has performed as a featured artist all over the United States, has appeared on HBO’s Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry, and a poem of his appeared in the 2006 Best American Poetry anthology. In 2012, the Star Tribune’s inaugural “Best of Minnesota” issue named Bao Phi as Best Spoken Word Artist. He has also been named a City Pages artist of the year.

His first collection of poems, Sông I Sing, was published by Coffee House Press in 2011. For his second collection of poems, Thousand Star Hotel, published in this past summer, also by Coffee House, he was selected by Minnesota Monthly as Author of the Year. His first children’s book, A Different Pond, was recently published by Capstone Press.

Following his presentation, the author will sign copies of his books in the Fitzgerald Library on Saint Mary’s Winona Campus.

Phi’s message closely resonates with Saint Mary’s mission, is part of the university’s Unity in Diversity initiative, and supports leadership development, Goal #5 of the Strategic Plan.

Photo by Anna Min

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