Poet slams stereotypes

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Slam poet Kit Yan spoke at the April 7 diversity lecture in UIndy Hall. Yan is an Asian-American transgender slam poet who is originally from Hawaii. Yan is featured in HBO’s “Asian Aloud” and has been reviewed in New York Magazine along with many others.

Yan took the audience through a journey of narratives about rebuilding and repairing through his anecdotes on heartbreak and politics, on love and the enjoyment of family and friends. The poetry he performed painted a picture for the audience about his experience as a radical gay and transgender Asian-American artist.

kit yan lecture

Kit Yan acts out some of his graphic and personal poetry for students during his April 7 Diversity Lecture in UIndy Hall. (Photo by Kameron Casey)


Yan opened up the performance with a few facts about himself and the show itself, explaining to the audience that he loves audience engagement.

“I do a couple announcements before the show just to get folks settled in,” Yan said. “Today’s show is going to have strong language and explicit material—sexually explicit material—so be ready for that. I just want you to know that this is a theatrical form of poetry and I write all the material myself.”

Yan’s performance was based on his own life experience. Yan said the poetry that he performed was inspired by various situations he had encountered, ranging from relationships to friends and family.

The first piece that he performed was about the stigmas and restrictions that are placed on a person’s gender by the society we live in.

“I wrote that piece when I was figuring out gender for myself and thinking through the different types of identities and genders and expressions that are out there,” he said.

Yan’s second piece was about love, and he dedicated the poem to the ones who love ‘love’ in the audience.

“I didn’t always write about love, because I couldn’t always envision a world where there was a kind of a love or romance or sex that I wanted as a queer transgender person,” he said.

Junior social work major Felicia Ridle thought the poetry that Yan shared was very intimate in showcasing his own life experiences.

“I liked the delivery style that Kit used, it kept me engaged throughout his performance,” she said. “What really captured me throughout the performance was how open Kit was in reciting his poetry, writing from his personal experiences and struggles as a transgender, and that is what really helps connecting with the audience, and he did just that.”

The poetry that he performed for the remainder of the performance was about heartbreak, friendship and the love of his family. Yan made it clear that his work was an integral part of his life, and the purpose of his shows was to bring awareness and inspire others.

“I just hope that people go home and are inspired to write their own stories. I hope that it opens up a dialogue between folks about queer issues. I hope that it makes people nicer to each other to be very frank,” Yan said. “I think that there are possibilities for whatever you want to see your life to be in the world.”

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