Sunday, April 25, 2010

Interview in Asian American Press and Show at Southwest Minnesota State University!

Hello beautiful people,

Here's to a new week and new stuff: first, our friend Bryan Thao Worra (who happens to be our feature poet for May's Family Style) interviewed me for Asian American Press.   You can check it out online at

I'm reprinting below.

Michelle Myers interview

0 Comments 15 April 2010
Michelle Myers interview

AAP staff writer

Michelle Myers is a writer and activist and a founding member of the spoken word group, Yellow Rage ( Yellow Rage has been featured on HBO’s Def Poetry Jam and toured across the country and y released an album “Black Hair, Brown Eyes, Yellow Rage, Vol. 1″. She is becoming a frequent visitor to Minnesota. As a solo artist, Michelle is dedicated to raising awareness about social injustices and building positive relationships across communities.Myers solo performance credits include the 2002 Vincent Chin Remembrance events in Detroit, MI; the 2005 APIA Spoken Word and Poetry Summit in Boston, MA; the 2009 TruJustice Protest and Rally outside the Capitol Building in Austin, TX; and the 2009 Up in Arms benefit concert for Fong Lee’s family and to protest police brutality in Minneapolis, MN.

She holds a Ph.D. in English from Temple University and currently teaches as an Assistant Professor and Reading/Writing Faculty Specialist in the Central Learning Lab at Community College of Philadelphia, and as the faculty advisor for the Spoken Word Poetry Club. She is also a featured artist in Jessica Chen Drammeh’s documentary film Anomaly, a film exploring the mixed race experience.
Asian American Press had a chance to discuss her work:

AAP: We often hear about how writers get started, but what keeps you going as a writer?

Michelle Myers: There are a couple of significant motivational forces behind my continuing to write. First of all, I am always touched by the people I meet everyday who tell me that they’ve been moved by my poetry and my performances, who thank me for sharing my work, and who give me the inspiration and strength to continue.

These conversations and encounters are what make it worthwhile to me – that give me hope that I am indeed making a difference in the world and in people’s lives in some small way. I am also motivated to keep writing because of my own desire and need to grow as an artist.

I’m continually seeking balance, happiness, and fulfillment in/through my work, and I’m constantly pushing myself to find ways to express my thoughts and feelings that feel true to who I am as a person/artist now and who I hope to become.

AAP: What are the themes you really enjoy examining in your work?

MM: Over the years, the themes I’ve focused on have been anti-Asian violence, human trafficking, modern-day slavery, and community building – not because I’ve “enjoyed” exploring these themes per se but because they’ve been important to me. Right now, I’m writing a series of poems which I’m calling my SHE poems. They are very women-centered and explore in very complex ways themes of love, beauty, relationships, strength, spirituality, violence, sensuality, betrayal, trust and how these impact women in varying degrees and on multiple levels.  Through a universal She perspective, I’m trying to humanize women in a way that both illuminates and celebrates our essential beauty and power.

AAP: What’s been one of the most surprising things you’ve learned over the years as a performer?

MM: What an interesting question! I think that the most surprising thing that I’ve learned over the years as a performer is that real, honest emotion can reach even the most skeptical person.  Every time I step on the stage, I believe that I have the power to make anyone in the audience feel what I feel. And even if I don’t change minds or get anyone to act beyond the scope of the performance itself, I was able to open myself to them just as they opened themselves to me, if only for a moment. And it’s in the potential for that exchange to spark a movement that gives me hope – that’s the point of ripping out my heart on stage and trusting the audience to handle it with care.

AAP: What’s been one of the most memorable things someone has said to you about your work?

MM: The most memorable thing anyone said to me about my work…there are 2 that stand out for me. One was when my friend from high school came to see me perform in NYC, and afterwards, she told me that when I perform, I seem to be “20 feet tall.”

Another was when I performed at a protest/rally outside the Texas Capitol Building in Austin last May 2009.  After the performance, a young lady came up to me and told me my poetry was “beautiful.”  I usually hear words like “powerful” and “fierce” and “amazing.” And though my friends tell me my work is beautiful all the time, this was the first time a random audience member had used that word to describe my work.  It made me feel good but also proud and humble at the same time.

AAP: Where does Asian American art need to push itself in the coming decade ahead?

MM: That is a very tough question. I think it’s difficult to analyze Asian American art broadly since the term encompasses so many different art forms as well as many different artists representing a multitude of disciplines, personalities, approaches, interests etc. But I think that as one such Asian American artist, what I would like to see most is more efforts to community-build.  I feel like we get so caught up in our own immediacies – whatever those are – that we often miss opportunities to support one another in very important ways.  I hope that in the years to come, we can discover ways to be connected and supportive and to assist each other in a movement of growth that will serve to benefit our community at-large.

The other exciting new bit of news is that we will be performing at Southwest Minnesota State University this Thurs, April 29, 2010 at noon.  Please come see us if you can!

Thursday, April 29, 2010
Upper Level Student Center
Southwest Minnesota State University
Marshall, MN

Special thanks to Alena, Rena, and Brittney from United Global Leaders Yearning for Success (U.G.L.Y.S.)  for all their hard work in bringing us out to SMSU. 


Saturday, April 17, 2010

Colorado State University, Mon, 4/19, 7pm

Hi all,

Sorry for announcing this way-last-minute. It's been a craaaazy hectic week . . .

You can find this announcement on CSU's Events calender page:

Hope to see you.


Yellow Rage
Monday, April 19, 2010, 07:00 PM
Lory Student Center Theater

Together, Michelle Myers and Catzie Vilayphonh are a dynamic duo of Philly-based Asian American female spoken-word poets.

Through their voices, Catzie and Michelle hope to provide an awareness that is not often heard. Exploring topics from fetishes to cultural appropriation to ethnic pride, Yellow Rage challenges mainstream misconceptions of Asianness.

More about the performers

Michelle Myers and Catzie Vilayphonh made their first appearance together as “Black Hair, Brown Eyes, Yellow Rage” in December 2000 at the Russell Simmons’ Def Poetry Slam in Philadelphia, where they made the semi-finals.

Since then, they have performed at the:

  • 2001 HBO U.S. Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen, Colorado
  • 2001 APIA Spoken Word Summit in Seattle, WA
  • 2001 NY International Fringe Festival in the show Asians Misbehavin’
  • 2002 ECASU (East Coast Asian Student Union) Conference at Duke University

In August 2002, the Leeway Foundation awarded Yellow Rage a Windows of Opportunity Grant which enabled them to travel to Hawai’i (Oahu) where they performed for the local poetry organization/collective Wordstew and attended the Globalization Research Center’s Trafficking of Asian Women and Children Conference.

They were also featured on HBO’s Russell Simmons Def Poetry Jam, which first aired in December 2001; the show can currently be seen in reruns on HBO.

Their first CD, Black Hair, Brown Eyes, Yellow Rage, Vol. 1, is now available.


Event Contact: Vani Narayana can be reached at (970) 491-4291

Sponsored by the Asian/Pacific American Cultural Center.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Rowan University on Thurs and Anomaly Premiere in Seattle!

Wow! this is a busy, busy weekend of events . . .

Catzie and I will be hosting and performing at this year's Asian Cultural Association Spring Festival at Rowan University in Glassboro, NJ--my undergrad alma mater! Yeah-ee-yeah!

Festival starts at 9pm in the Student Center.

Don't forget Family Style is on Friday!


We are proud to be preparing for a Northwest/Seattle premiere at the Langston Hughes African American Film Festival. In attendance will be both Director/Producer Jessica Chen Drammeh and Co-Producer Sharon Smith!

Caption: Michelle Myers (at right) and her daughter. Myong, in Anomaly.


Langston Hughes African American Film Festival

>When: Sunday, April 18 at 1:30 pm

>Where: Central Cinema, 1411 21st Avenue (at Union), Seattle, WA 98122, (206) 686-6684

>For more info, check out

>Buy tickets ($8) in person at Central Cinema or online

>Filmmakers in attendance: Q&A will follow screening with Director/Producer Jessica Chen Drammeh and Co-Producer Sharon Smith!

Barack Obama’s presidency has brought conversations on racial identity to the forefront. ANOMALY is a groundbreaking documentary film that takes an insider’s look at the experiences of multiracial Americans. Through personal narratives, ANOMALY stimulates viewers to think about identity, family and community in a changing world.

The film features interviews and performances with singer/songwriter Gabriella Callender of Mahina Movement, spoken word artist Michelle Myers of Yellow Rage, poet/musician Pete Shungu, author/poet Thaddeus Rutkowski, along with community leaders and academic experts.

Screening co-sponsored by the MAVIN Foundation, which serves mixed heritage people and families, including those who identify as biracial, mixed race, multiracial, multiethnic, transracial and transnational adoptees, and people in interracial relationships. Based in Seattle, MAVIN is committed to building stronger communities by supporting mixed heritage people and families, working for social justice and raising awareness about the complexities of race, racism, and identity.

The Langston Hughes African American Film Festival supports community building by providing opportunities for artists and audiences to connect using the medium of film as a catalyst for dialogue that leads to social change. The festival creates year round opportunities to enhance media literacy, self-reflection, and community discussion. By creating the shared experience of films that are by and about Black people, the festival is a creative and collaborative opportunity to build cultural competency across the aisle and across neighborhoods in greater Seattle.

The Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center celebrates, nurtures, presents and preserves African American performing arts and cultural legacies. This year, the Center is under renovation, and screenings will be held at a variety of venues in Seattle.

Spread the word to your friends, and meet us in Seattle!

Enjoy the film and the Q&A,

Jessica and Sharon

Monday, April 12, 2010

Family Style, This FRI! And SULU DC on Sat!

Family Style
Open Mic Series

Third Fridays of the month:
UPCOMING: Friday, April 16, 7:30 p.m.
$5-10 sliding scale admission

Asian Arts Initiative
1219 Vine Street, Philly

open mic features poet LOVELLA CALICA and the theme "DO NOT BE AFRAID: Personal Growth Through Struggle."

LOVELLA CALICA is a writer, photographer, and multi-media artist. With backgrounds in Human Development, English, and social justice organizing, she offers a unique perspective and develops creative, collaborative ways of organizing and communicating.

She is the founder and director of the Warrior Writers Project, a creative community for veterans articulating their experiences. She has edited two anthologies of Iraq era veterans' writing/art entitled Move, Shoot and Communicate and Re-Making Sense.

Lovella has received two Art and Change grants from the Leeway Foundation and was recently honored with the Transformation Award. She published her first chapbook of poetry Makibaka: Beautifully Brave in 2006 and is planning to complete a full book of writing in the spring of 2010. Lovella is a co-founder of the Pilipino-American artist collective, Tatlo Mestiz@s.

The SULU Series

Third Saturdays of the month:

UPCOMING: Saturday, April 17, 7:00 p.m.

$10 general admission

$8 Students

Almaz Restaurant and Lounge
1212 U Street, U Street Metro (green/yellow)

Please support! Hope to see you!


Wednesday, April 07, 2010

I Met Salt-N-Pepa

This actually happened over a month ago. And I'm just now getting around to writing about it--not cuz I've been too busy (though I have been)--but because I just didn't know if I wanted to write about it. See, I wanted to be able to get on the blog and scream across cyberworld: "I MET SALT-N-PEPAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!" and be so hype about it that yall would hear it through your computers or phones or whatever it is you're using to peep our website. But I haven't been hype about it. I've been down-right ambivalent about it if not a teensy bit depressed. But I wanted to finally share a lil something about the experience cuz it meant a lot to me to be able to meet them, and I just want to show them respect--as women, as artists, as performers, as pioneers in the male-dominated world/business of hip hop.

So it all started cuz my husband has been trying to figure out ways to show me how much he loves me. It's a long story that I ain't getting into, but our relationship is currently on the mend. So he told me for my birthday (and his), he wanted to take me to the Fresh Fest concert when it rolled through Philly at the end of Feb. So if ya don't know what Fresh Fest is, it's a concert tour featuring a bunch of hip hop and R&B artists from back-in-the-day: Biz Markie, Slick Rick, Rob Base, Force MD's, Whodini, and Salt-N-Pepa. Here's the flyer:

So being ol-heads and ol-school, it was right up our alley, and me and my husband joined all the other nostalgic old folks getting out for the night, running away from jobs, kids, adult responsibilities, and just remember what it was like to be a kid listening to this music. Well, I almost didn't go this concert cuz I got mad at my husband, but in the end, he talked me into going though I was still mad. And really, I just wanted to see a good show. And definitely the main reason I went is because i wanted to see Salt-n-Pepa.

You have to understand, I would not be a spoken word poet if it weren't for Salt-N-Pepa. It all started way back then, in the 1980's, when hip hop was all over the radio and kids were poppin-n-lockin in the streets and having freestyle battles in cafeterias and on buses. And the gender wars played out for me even back then. Because I used to have these rhyme battles with Derrick on the high school baseball team bus (I was the team manager) and we'd be battling and he'd give up but make it seem like he was doing me a favor b/c I was female. But I'd keep coming at him and hard, and I was only able to believe I could do it and trash talk and go home and write more rhymes because I was such a HUGE fan of Salt-N-Pepa. "A Salt with a Deadly Pepa" was the FIRST hip hop album I ever owned yall! I looked up to them sooo much as a young woman trying to be assertive and unapologetic and strong and uncompromising, especially in male domains. To this day, when I'm imagining myself onstage, I think about Salt-N-Pepa and how they held themselves. I owe a lot to the trail blazing they did in the early years of hip hop as it became more commercial and accessible via radio.

So my husband got us seats in the 3rd row on the floor. We were right in front of the stage. And I was happy and content with that. But then--and I can't divulge the details of how it all went down--he had connections that set things up so we would be able to go backstage. And he did all of that so that I could meet Salt-N-Pepa. He thought that would be the greatest gift he could give me--to give me the opportunity to meet these women--including Spinderella, I don't want to forget her!--who were such a big inspiration in my life. And at first, when I found out I would be going backstage to meet them, I was happy. But then happiness became anxiety. And then I actually started getting nervous. And I even started to tear up a little. And I was getting angry at myself b/c it seemed like such a groupie way to be about it--What was wrong with me?! Why couldn't I just enjoy the moment and be happy?! But nothing is ever that simple for me. I always feel compelled to ask myself, "What does it all mean?"

So I decided that if this was my one moment to meet Salt-N-Pepa, then I was going to tell them what a huge inspiration they had been to me. I was gonna just tell them. And I could feel myself getting emotional, but I didn't care. I just kept thinking, when will I ever get a chance like this again?

So we were whisked backstage, and when I saw the small group of people waiting to take their pictures with Salt-N-Pepa, I knew this was supposed to be one of these assembly-line photo opp sessions--that we were just supposed to jump in line, take a picture when it was our turn, and keep it moving. And I almost let it be that. But when I got up there I just started talking. I started spilling my guts to Pepa first, then somehow I found myself rambling on to Salt--and I ignored Spinderella altogether, OMG!, because I didn't know how much time I had before people waiting to take pictures would get impatient. And I know I told them that they were an inspiration to me and that I wouldn't have ever believed in myself as a poet if it weren't for them blah blah blah. And don't know if I made sense. And as much as I rambled and talked so fast, I suddenly stopped to take the picture b/c I was afraid people would start yelling at me. *sigh* Anyway, here's one picture:

Don't I look like I'm in a daze. OMG, I felt sooo stupid. And I felt sad and dissatisfied afterwards. And there was this part of me that wished my husband had never set it up at all. That I simply went to the concert, shouted out the lyrics to my favorite old-school rap songs, danced in the aisles, and had lots and lots of fun. Instead, in the days that followed, I agonized and second-guessed. And processed . . .

It's been over a month, and I finally feel like I've processed enough to share. And I know I'm a goofball. And I think too much. But that's the only way I'm able to feel deeply and to understand my own place in this world and be comfortable with it. I had a great opportunity to meet these women who have been role models to me since I was a teenager. I got to tell them what their presence in hip hop and in the world has meant to me. And I hope I'm not that story about the crazy girl who rambled on and on in Philly while they were on the Fresh Fest tour. But if so, oh well. At least, they remembered me.

Special thanks to my husband who has been trying really hard to find different ways of showing me he loves me. No one else in the world would have thought about giving me this gift because no one else in the world knows me as well as he does.

Sending you all love always,