Ming Li Wu is a senior at the Davidson Academy and she'll be giving a talk at Saturday's Tedx event in Reno. It's a live, local version of the international Ted Talk program, which aims to share meaningful ideas through compelling speeches.
Wu met up with our News Director Michelle Billman to chat about her experience as a spoken word poet, which will play a large part in her talk. She shared some of her work as well. Let's take a listen.
KUNR: Ming Li, thanks for joining me today.
Ming Li (ML): Thank you.
KUNR: You’re giving a talk on creating human connection through what you call ‘authentic vulnerability,’ and one way that you share and open up some of your personal vulnerabilities is through spoken word poetry. Can you explain what that art form entails?
ML: Sure, it’s a type of free verse performance poetry, so it’s meant to be read aloud or recited. It doesn’t have to have a certain meter or rhyme scheme, and it’s often about personal topics or social issues.
KUNR: And you actually have a poem to share with us today. Tell me a little bit about it.
ML: This poem is called T. I actually performed it at an event in Washington, D.C. last summer called “I, Too, Am America.” It’s part of the Brave New Voices competition. Here goes:
KUNR: That’s deeply personal.
ML: Yeah, a lot of my poetry is.
KUNR: Tell me what motivated you to write that and what you hope people get out of hearing that.
ML: I think this is kind of a scary time for a lot of queer people right now in America, and I wanted to help the general population understand that. I also wanted to express a lot of the emotions that I was feeling.
KUNR: You told me that spoken word poetry has transformed your life. Can you explain that transformation?
ML: Yeah. When I moved to Reno in eighth grade, I didn’t know anyone here and I was very shy. I go to the Davidson Academy and I was suddenly surrounded by a lot of very smart people, and I was like, ‘Oh, no. Maybe I should not say things because I might be wrong.’ My teachers actually got worried about me my first semester because I wasn’t talking in class and they thought something was wrong.
I spent a lot of time working on speaking up for the next couple years, and one of the things that has really helped me with that is performing poetry because you kind of get into a different head space when you’re up on stage. It’s a confidence booster, and I’ve been able, eventually, to translate that confidence into my daily life.
KUNR: Ming Li, thank you.
ML: Thank you.