Hey you! Yes, you, the one who is reading the Daily Nexus Artsweek section right now. Do you have plans tonight? Oh, you don’t? Well then, in that case, you should drop by the Coffee Cat (a 10-minute trek downtown) at 7:30 p.m. tonight and witness Chicago’s very own Kelly Zen-Yie Tsai perform an hour and a half of nonstop spoken-word greatness. This evening of spoken word is sponsored by the UCSB MultiCultural Center and will also showcase UCSB student performers.

Kelly Zen-Yie Tsai is an ambassador for cultural pride and survival. Her work has been presented at the White House, Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center, Tyra Banks’ Flawsome Ball and about 500 other venues around the world. She has won numerous awards from groups including the Asian American Arts Alliance, Asian Women Giving Circle and New York Foundation for the Arts. She has been featured on Idealist in NYC’s “Top 40 NYC’ers Who Make Positive Social Change” and HBO’s “East of Main Street: Asians Aloud.”

In short, Zen-Yie Tsai is a regular badass.

Zen-Yie Tsai was born in Chicago and attended college at the University of Illinois. During her collegiate years, she spearheaded a venue for slam poetry and helped found an all-female spoken word group named Sirenz. The mission of Sirenz was to spread awareness about Asian, black and Latina American diasporas in the Midwest, which was often a hotbed of white supremacist crimes.

Critics who have seen Zen-Yie Tsai perform have called her “a bundle of poetic ferocity and joy like you’ve never seen,” “an arresting artist” and a “fierce and passionate performer who walks the walk and talks the talk.” So swing by the Coffee Cat and catch this fiery spoken word performer in action for free! You’ll be glad you did.



A version of this article appeared on page 12 of the May 16th, 2013′s print edition of the Nexus.