Slam Poetry and Asian American Masculinity

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Slams offer the poet to openly express the “personal” to the audience. Marc Smith, founder and grandmaster slammer advocates that “slam poetry at its best is when it is a personal life experience” (Smith). In relation to Asian-American (AA) males, the most common of poetic topics is the issue of self-identity, the double conscious and other generalizations of an Asian man. More specifically, the subject of AA male sexuality has been greatly expressed by these performance poets. “What it means to be an Asian-American male” and the emasculation of Asian men are a few perspectives that the spoken word poet would want to demonstrate to his audience. The use of slam to express his disdain for the model masculinity imposed onto society by the hegemonic class can be observed as a form of exhibiting an alternative form of masculinity. A perfect example of such an expression of masculine discourse would be to observe the performances of Beau Sia, one of the leading faces in the AA spoken word movement. In Slam Nation, director Paul Devlin documents Beau Sia’s performance of “Asian Men”. The oral prose gives insight to the Portland, Oregon audience of the sexual myths regarding Asian men. In a satirical form, he is able to juxtapose the perspectives of women from different nations vying for the Asian man’s phallus, who Sia proclaims in an over-the-top manner, is “hung like horses”. By expressing his masculinity in this form of artful activism, he plays on the irony of this reversal and intentionally attacks the men of other races for their lack of proportion. His pathos is further established in the film when Sia is interviewed at his hotel room; abstract pictures of himself and his future family are the first indicator of deep roots that hegemonic masculinity has planted into the poet. Sia explains that all of his self-portraits are of him looking “white” and continues on

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