guest post: kindness over genius

I'm on vacation! Taking a much-needed break. But don't worry. While I'm away, I've enlisted some great guest bloggers to keep things going around here. Here's spoken word artist Kelly Zen-Yie Tsai with exclusive video of her poem, "Kindness Over Genius."

And heeeeeere's the text of the poem:
Kindness Over Genius
by Kelly Zen-Yie Tsai

for Sarah who said somethin' like:

"in my 20's, i think i was most captivated by genius, but now, in my 30's, i realize how rare authentic kindness is."

i've got to agree with sarah.

in my 20's, i thought genius
was the hot shit.

muthafucka's who taught themselves
how to play 20 different instruments --

a combination lawyer / ER doctor /
and clinical social worker --

a novelist who writes for 10 hours a day,
goes to sleep for 2, gets up and writes for another 10 --

    now, genius bores me.

the tedium of the workaholic,
the blistering erections of human achievement,

    all while the genius' life crumbles
    around him or her.

the phone goes silent.
birthdays and holidays go missed.
vacations never get taken.

genius doesn't believe
in such frivolous things.

i know, because i have been
a sufferer of genius.

i'm not saying that i am a genius,
but i've almost died in its pursuit.

sacrificed so many nights not sleeping,

exploded an atomic mushroom cloud
of emotional distance around me,

found my own ingenuity and energy
outpacing me, running over me foot by foot,

genius doesn't have time
for feelings or social skills
or farmville on facebook

for bubble tea dates on rainy afternoons
or guitar hero marathons or knowing
what one's loved one is crying about
when the crying eventually does come.

genius is so often absent --
swinging around in its own genius world,
gorilla knuckled with broad teeth and a thick skull,

blowing through the jungle,
not caring who he or she crushes.

to live like this is not extraordinary --

not when compared to the open hand
that on monday, tuesday, wednesday,
thursday, friday, saturday, sunday stays here

no flinching, no quaking, no fists.

not extraordinary when compared
to the open hand that stays here

through powdery blizzards, scorching summers,
balmy springs,

not extraordinary when compared to the open hand that stays here --

    and isn't worried about whatever "hand" things
    it could be doing right now?

    or what are all the other hands are up to?

    or if it really is appreciated and recognized
    by the entire world in its true value as a hand?

not extraordinary when compared to
the open hand that stays here and extends,

fingers and wrist rooted in the whole person.
one who is right here, right in front of me,

not racing ahead to seek out the next solution,
the next innovation, the next trend.

not extraordinary when compared to the open hand
that stays here and remains, unafraid to be kind,
in the midst of so much genius.
Kelly Zen-Yie Tsai is a Chicago-born, Brooklyn-based Chinese Taiwanese American spoken word artist who's performed at over 450 venues worldwide including 3 seasons of HBO Def Poetry. www.yellowgurl.com, www.youtube.com/kztsai, Twitter: @yellowgurlpoet (Photo: Kevin Kane)

angry archive