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Kelly Yen-Zie Tsai spoken word performance about life and love

“Under sex you put ‘missionary.’ Did you just not have enough time to fill that out?” This was just one joke from Kelly Yen-Zie Tsai’s spoken word performance on healthy relationships and identity.

Tsai’s opening video piece “The Relationship Resume” (which the quote above is from) explored the concept of what relationships would be like if couples interviewed each other (as Tsai did in the video) and got all their “stuff” on the table before entering the relationship.

Tsai is an award winning poet, playwright and filmmaker. The Taiwanese-Chinese American was brought to Boise State by the Women’s Center in conjunction with the Chinese Club, the English Major’s Association and the Gender Studies Club.

While Tsai had the audience laughing at relatable relationship concerns (emotional baggage, previous relationships, family drama) she also had the group consider less immediate and talked about areas in relationships.

Tsai’s spoken word poetry, inspired by her life experiences, explored how we formulate our identity and how that influences our relationships with romantic partners and how our family members, politics and the world around us contribute to shaping the relationship.

“Sometimes people can be a certain way in their personal relationships but then wildly different in their social relationships with their friends,” Tsai said after the performance. “For me it’s all connected in terms of creating a total whole network of support for yourself in the world.”

Tsai’s poem “Love is easy, relationships are hard” is a list of major obstacles—“clear communication, same desires, exes not being crazy”—and minor obstacles—“toilet bowl being scrubbed, on point hygiene”—couples encounter in serious relationships.

Megan and Wes Austin, who have been married for a year and a half, found the poem’s content relatable, since they are exploring marriage.

“It was very well spoken; it was easily relatable and to understand about all the concepts of relationships, that everyone feels the same emotions,” Wes Austin, a CWI freshman, said.

Tsai also used personal stories to show the audience different aspects of relationships.

Tsai told a story of how one of her girlfriends did something similar to the relationship resume by asking her guy friends about her character qualities that were ideal in a relationship and created a rubric she used on people she went on dates  with until she met her husband who met almost all of her criteria.

Tsai’s friend decided the two items her now husband didn’t meet (being tall and black) were not deal breakers.

Megan Austin said she enjoyed the diversity of media (videos, song, poetry) Tsai used in performing and exploring concepts of relationships.

“I loved that she has such a wide range of what she does,” Megan Austin said. “I just loved that Kelly has all these different things that she does. I was really impressed by that.”

In the original posting of this article we neglected to mention the organizations at Boise State who brought Kelly Yen-Zie Tsai. The article has been updated to acknowledge their hard work.