ACTIVIST AND ENTERTAINER

By Estela Hernandez, public relations and events specialist, Office for Equity and Diversity

Writer, poet, performer, activist and entertainer Staceyann Chin will deliver a performance of spoken word and poetry for the University of Utah’s annual Women’s Week, on Wednesday, March 8 at 12:30 p.m., in the Union Saltair Room.

Chin resides in New York City and identifies as a Caribbean, black, Asian and lesbian woman. Her written work has been featured in publications such as Essence magazine, The Jamaica Gleaner and The New York Times, among many others. Chin also writes for the stage and is widely known for co-writing and being an original performer in the Tony Award-winning “Russell Simmons Def Poetry Jam on Broadway.”

Among her many works, she is best known as the author of “The Other Side of Paradise,” a memoir that chronicles her childhood and growing up in Jamaica. Chin recounts being an outspoken child — always questioning things around her. She continued to be outspoken during her college years while coming to terms with her sexuality and identity. But it wasn’t until she was sexually assaulted on campus when her voiced was muted and silenced. In the book, she describes her attack as a form of punishment for openly being a lesbian and not conforming to a sexual identity placed upon her by peers. She talks about the anger after her silence and how it inspired her to write and voice issues around sexual assault through an artistic lens.

In a 2016 interview with Ebony, Chin stated, “I’m a memoir writer. I try to understand the world by taking experiences I have and making them into a story, whether it’s a narrative memoir, blogging for The Huffington Post, writing poems or talking on the screen about what has happened to me and how that relates to the world at large.”

Expressing herself and telling stories through poetry has given her the power to recognize that change comes from action. She firmly believes that those who have the power to speak have an obligation to address issues that impact them, but also to give a voice to communities that do not have the power to speak as loudly, or even at all.

Chin will deliver a poetry reading and performance entitled “Your Silence Will Not Protect You.” Much like Audre Lorde urges in her iconic 1977 speech to the Modern Language Association, Chin has taken on the work of transforming silence into language and action. Poetry, writing and performance are the vehicles Chin uses to interrupt silence and speak loudly against a patriarchy that silences those who have experienced racial and gendered violence.

In addition to the performance on March 8, Chin will lead a writing/activism workshop on Thursday, March 9, at 12 p.m. in the Union West Ballroom. For more details about Chin and information on all 2017 Women’s Week events, click here.