Bao Phi is a Vietnamese American spoken word artist, writer and community activist living in Minnesota.
A two-time Minnesota Grand Slam champion and a National Poetry Slam finalist, Bao Phi has appeared on HBO Presents Russell Simmons Def Poetry, featured in the live performances and taping of the blockbuster diasporic Vietnamese variety show Paris By Night 114: Tôi Là Người Việt Nam, and a poem of his appeared in the 2006 Best American Poetry anthology. His poems and essays are widely published in numerous publications including Screaming Monkeys and Spoken Word Revolution Redux. He has also released several CDs of his poetry, such as the recently sold-out Refugeography to his newest CD, The Nguyens EP. A short story of his, Revolution Shuffle, appeared in the landmark anthology Octavia’s Brood: Stories from Social Justice Movements, AK Press, 2015.
He has performed in venues and schools across the country, from the Nuyorican Poets Café to the University of California, Berkeley. He was featured in the award-winning documentary feature film The Listening Project as an American listener who traveled the world to talk to every day people about global issues and politics. He also returned to acting in 2008 with a feature role in Theatre Mu’s production of Q & A. He was on poetry faculty at the Kundiman retreat at Fordham University in New York in 2015.
In addition to his creative work, he was nominated for a Facing Race Ambassador award in recognition for his community work, and has published essays in topics from Asians in hip hop to Asian representation in video games. He has been a guest speaker at numerous events and for various entities, such as Giant Steps and Bushconnect. Currently he continues to perform across the country, remains active as an Asian American community organizer, and is the Program Director of the Loft, where he manages various programs serving writers as well as creates and operates programs for artists and audiences of color. He was the Coordinating Chair of the National APIA Spoken Word Poetry Summit, 2011.
His series, Equilibrium, recently won the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits Anti-Racism Initiative Award.
His first collection of poetry, Sông I Sing, published by Coffee House Press, was met with strong sales, is taught in classrooms across the United States, and enjoyed rave reviews, including the New York Times which stated “In this song of his very American self, every poem Mr. Phi writes rhymes with the truth.” 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 and Urban Griots artist of the year and event producer of the year.