Alvin Lau

Alvin Lau

 Chicago, Illinois, USA
BandSpoken Word

Alvin Lau is a 2X National Youth Poetry Slam Champion and his dynamic poetry has twice been featured on HBO's Def Poetry Jam. The fire tongued Chicago native is currently the second ranked Slam Poet in the nation and was named Amnesty International's poet of the year in 2007.


Alvin Lau is a performance poet, working artist, and Chicago native. Combining an academic background with the fiercely honest, unrestrained delivery, Alvin performs with a bold, imaginative style that has been described as "Billy Collins meets Kanye West." The son of first-generation Chinese immigrants, he often speaks of the Asian-American experience, his subjects ranging from Tiger Woods' arrogance to importance of loving hip-hop.

An avid competitor, he is a two-time national youth poetry slam champion, two-time Chicago Grand Slam Champion, Midwest regional individual and team champion, and a three-time individual finalist in national competition, currently ranked #2 in the nation.

Over his career, Alvin has been the opening speaker at the Asian-American Film Festival, a panelist for the Illinois Humanities Council, a featured poet on Amnesty International’s Spoken Word Tour, he filmed for the fifth and sixth seasons of HBO's Def Poetry Jam, and has been Pushcart nominated. Alvin has spoken, performed, and held workshops at numerous colleges and universities across the country, including Grinnell College, Yale University, and Sarah Lawrence College. His poetry can be found in numerous literary journals and anthologies, recently appearing or forthcoming in Rattle, Red River Review Online, and Brave Desert Voices: the National Poetry Slam Anthology 2005.

"Alvin Lau flips it. You won't get clichés and butter here. You'll get someone who is reaching for that shiny thing behind the rib cage."
--Buddy Wakefield, two-time Individual World Poetry Slam champion.

"Alvin Lau carves blizzards out of granite, releasing flurries of
words that make you step back, catch your breath, and marvel at the
craft and concentration humming underneath."
-- Jeremy Richards, co-editor of The 2005 National Poetry Slam Anthology

"Alvin Lau is like a freshly lit fireball, graceful, vibrant and booming ... a wicked combination for such a young talent. Alvin writes and performs like he means it, in every muscle twitch, in every damn letter … Expect greatness."
-Jaylee Alde, member of nationally acclaimed API spoken word group Proletariat Bronze and 2004 National Poetry Slam Individual Runner-Up

”Alvin Lau is young, sharp and freakishly talented. … A manic intellectual, Lau provides metaphorical bricks to his readers and listeners, asking them to launch them through the dirty window of apathy.”
-Rachel McKibbens, SlamMaster for the louderARTS Project

“The single most promising poet in the [Rustbelt Regional Poetry] Slam …his stylishly cocky Asian-American voice holds the fire of intelligence.”
--Vital Source Magazine

-Alvin was Selected as a First Alternate at the 2008 NACA National Conference in St. Louis, Mo