Staceyann Chin is a fulltime mother, writer, performer, and activist. She identifies as Caribbean and Black, Asian and lesbian, woman and resident of New York City.
Widely known as co-writer and original performer in the Tony award winning, Russell Simmons Def Poetry Jam on Broadway, her poetry has seen the rousing cheers of the Nuyorican Poets’ Café, one-woman shows Off-Broadway, writing-workshops in Kenya, Sweden, South Africa, and Australia.
A proud Jamaican National, Staceyann’s voice was featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show, where she spoke candidly about her experiences of growing up on the island and the dire consequences of her coming-out there.
Chin travels and does workshops with women around the female body—its power, its trauma, its recovery, her workshops pay particular attention to sexual violence. There is talk, and poetry, and other words, written for and by women who have experienced difficult things. Chin encourages those women to look at the work together, to share experiences, feelings about the work—then she helps the women to make art of their tragedy.
On the average day the poet/performer/activist/entertainer writes disjointed journal entries, feeds her kid, obsesses about global poverty, attempts to bridge the divide between African-Americans and the Caribbean, between Africa and its fragile connection to its Diaspora. All this she does while trying to be a-not-so-easily-categorized, political body, residing inside the current America, committed to being an everyday activist navigating with integrity.
At the ARTivism Lab:
Come and make political art of your life: write a memoir, poetry, and theatre; explore characters from your lived experience, give them voice, bring them alive in a two-week workshop. Make the commitment to find your radical center, the part of you that wants to resist the dominant narratives about identity, money, power, and survival—explore that center and make it your compass for living/writing/loving in the modern world. Write from that center, perform form that center. Then present a finished piece at the end of the workshop to the community in a street/park performance.
Staceyann usually begins at whatever levels of consciousness she finds the group: Members of the workshop may be coming from different backgrounds, different levels of understanding the key ideas behind finding a narrative of resistance. Some people may need a basic explanation of resistance as a concept. Others will have been doing this for eons. They have to meet at a point where they see each other and are able to respect the places that bookmark their present. There will be exercises to encourage empathy and personal story-sharing. An atmosphere of family must be created in the first few days. When folks leave the workshop, they should be closer to identifying where they are—with respect to political identities, and be able to understand the various ways in which they resist a dominant, or comply with that dominant narrative. The intent is to change lives, to make those affected (more) to the process of living fuller, more honest, more meaningful lives.