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Bao Phi was born in Sai Gon, Viet Nam, the youngest son to two mixed blood Chinese and Vietnamese parents who raised him in the Phillips neighborhood of South Minneapolis.
A graduate of Macalester College and retired pizza delivery boy, Bao Phi has performed at numerous venues and schools locally and nationally, from the Nuyorican Poet's Café to the University of California, Berkeley.
Phi has twice won the Minnesota Grand Poetry Slam, and also won two poetry slams at the Nuyorican Poets Café in New York.
He is the first Vietnamese American man to have appeared on HBO's Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry, and the National Poetry Slam Individual Finalists Stage, where he placed 6th overall out of over 250 national slam poets.
Bao Phi's vision is to offer an alternative perspective on Asian American community building through the arts. He has been a featured artist in many community events, rallies and functions, most recently being heavily involved with the Justice for Fong Lee committee.
Phi has taught workshops and performed for youth for organizations from the W.O.C. in Minneapolis to the Chinatown Community Development Center in San Francisco. He was an advisory panel member, workshop moderator, and performer for Intimacy and Geography, the Asian American Writers' Workshop national poetry festival in New York.
He is also published in various literary magazines, journals, and anthologies, including From Both Sides Now, the Def Poetry Jam anthology, Legacy to Liberation, Screaming Monkeys, and Michigan Quarterly Review. His poetry is included in the EMC/Paradigm line of English textbooks for High School students, and has done voice work for their educational materials. One of his poems was recently selected to appear in Minneapolis/Saint Paul city buses in the Poetry in Motion program. He is also the author of the chapbook, Surviving the Translation. Billy Collins selected one of Phi’s poems, "Race," for inclusion in the Best American Poetry 2006 anthology. His first book of poems will be published by Coffee House Press in late 2011.
Currently he works as an Associate Program Director at The Loft Literary Center where he curates and operates Equilibrium, a successful spoken word series he created, which invites nationally recognized artists of color/indigenous artists to share the stage with local Minnesota artists of color/indigenous artists. In 2005, he released his new CD, Refugeography, and continues to tour around the country. Equilibrium was awarded the Anti-Racism Initiative award from the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits in 2010. In 2011 Bao Phi published Song I Sing, a collection of poems focused on modern Vietnamese-Asian American life with each poem capable of being read for spoken word.
Bao was also a featured listener in the award-winning documentary film The Listening Project.
- Raphael-Hernandez, Heike; Steen, Shannon (2006-11-01). AfroAsian Encounters: Culture, History, Politics. NYU Press. pp. 257–. ISBN 9780814775813. Retrieved 2 July 2012.
- DiMaggio, Paul; Fernández-Kelly, Patricia (2010-11-18). Art in the Lives of Immigrant Communities in the United States. Rutgers University Press. pp. 206–. ISBN 9780813547572. Retrieved 2 July 2012.
- Phi, Bao (3 March 2011). "Fong Lee: the human cost and the strength of his family". Star Tribune. Retrieved 3 March 2011.[dead link]