Unbound Feet Collective Reunion: Chinese American Women Poets
This historic reading, Unbound Feet Collective Reunion: Chinese American Women Poets, Genny Lim, Kitty Tsui, Nellie Wong, Canyon Sam and special guest emcee Jade Cho, celebrates the 35th anniversary reunion of these pioneer poets, who broke ground as members of the writing collective, Unbound Feet, established in 1981. Their work challenged the gender stereotypical roles of Asian women in society and addressed issues of sexual as well as racial oppression, forging a pathway for Asian American feminists today.
Genny Lim is the current San Francisco Jazz Poet Laureate. She has performed in poetry & music collaborations with the late great jazz legends Max Roach, Herbie Lewis and Fred Ho and local musicians, John Santos, Francis Wong and Jon Jang. She has also been featured at World Poetry Festivals in Venezuela, Bosnia and Italy. Her award-winning play "Paper Angels," aired on PBS American Playhouse in 1985 and was reprised in 2010 in San Francisco Chinatown’s Portsmouth Square, receiving the San Francisco Fringe Festival Best Site Specific Award. It was remounted in 2016 at the Seattle Fringe Festival and will be produced in St. Louis, Missouri this year. Lim's performance piece, "Don't Shoot! A Requiem in Black" dedicated to Black Lives Matter, premiered at Safe House this last April to sold-out houses and will be performed at next year's SF Jazz Poetry Festival at SF Jazz Center. Lim is author of four poetry collections, Winter Place, Child of War, Paper Gods and Rebels, KRA! and co-author of the seminal, Island: Poetry and History of Chinese Immigrants on Angel Island.
Kitty Tsui is an activist poet and a poet activist. One of the founding members of Unbound Feet, she is the author of books including The Words of a Woman Who Breathes Fire, and Breathless: Erotica, winner of the Firecracker Alternative Book Award. At present, she is at work on White Snake, a historical novel, basely on her grandmother, a famous Chinese opera singer who toured the Chinatowns in the 1920s through the 1940s. Her new book, Nice Chinese Girls Don’t, is due out from A Midsummer Night’s Press & Sinister Wisdom in 2018.
Nellie Wong is the author of four poetry books: Dreams in Harrison Railroad Park, The Death of Long Steam Lady, Stolen Moments, and Breakfast Lunch Dinner (Meridien PressWorks, 2012). She most recently edited Talking Back Voices of Color, Red Letter Press. Two of her poems are inscribed at public sites in San Francisco: “Song of Farewell” is placed on the Embarcadero Roadway across from Pier 23 at the Muni railway stop. The other is located at Market and Sanchez Muni stop with both pieces selected by the San Francisco Arts Commission.
Her poems and essays have been published in many journals and anthologies. Her work has been translated into Spanish, Chinese, French and Italian. She has read throughout the U.S. as well as in Australia, Cuba and China. She’s co-featured with Mitsuye Yamada in the documentary film, Mitsuye and Nellie Asian American Poets, by Allie Light and Irving Saraf.
She’s been recognized by the San Francisco Women’s Foundation, the University of California Santa Barbara, among others, and by Oakland High School, her alma mater, by having a building named after her.
The first-born daughter of Chinese immigrants in Oakland, California, she’s active with Radical Women and the Freedom Socialist Party and has worked as a secretary, administrative assistant and Affirmative Action analyst. She was a delegate to the San Francisco Labor Council for University Professional and Technical Employees (UPTE). She’s taught at Mills College and the University of Minnesota. Wong has traveled with Alice Walker, Tillie Olsen, Paule Marshall and other delegates on the First U. S. Women Writers Tour to China.
Canyon Sam was the youngest member of Unbound Feet -- aged 23. She is a third generation San Franciscan who won a NEA Minority Youth Leadership scholarship as a teenager and published dozens of works in feminist and lesbian anthologies in the 80s - 90s. In 1976 she began organizing the Asian American lesbian community in the Bay Area. She went on to became a nationally acclaimed solo performance artist in the 90s and an award winning author. Her book, Sky Train: Tibetan Women on the Edge of History won the PEN American Center Open Book Award (Foreword by the Dalai Lama).
Jade Cho author of In the Tongue of Ghosts. While at Cal, Jade was Cal Slam's best political poetry winner and she started out in high school with Bay Area Youth Speaks.