EMILY XYZ is an American writer and performer best known for her spoken-word poetry for multiple voices. Born in upstate New York, she moved to New York City in 1982 and was active in the downtown Manhattan performance art and music scene. Her early experiments with multiple-voice poetry included 1986’s Phil Spector, for 8 voices and 3 toy phonographs, before she settled on the two-voice format that has since become a stylistic hallmark.
In 1992 XYZ began working with actress Myers Bartlett, who is still her performance partner. The pair has toured extensively in the U.S. and Canada as members of the seminal New York City spoken-word collectives The Nuyorican Poets Café Live! and Real Live Poetry, and on their own. XYZ and Bartlett have previously performed in Australia twice, at the Sydney Arts Festival in 1996 and at the Queensland Poetry Festival in 2006.
A book and audio CD collection of XYZ’s work for two voices, entitled The Emily XYZ Songbook, was published in 2004. Her poem “Slot Machine” was featured in the nationally broadcast Public Television [PBS] series The United States of Poetry, and in the companion book and CD. Her poems for single and multiple voices poems have been published in several anthologies, including Up Is Up But So Is Down: New York’s Downtown Literary Scene 1974–1992 (2006: NYU Press), Aloud: Voices from the Nuyorican Poets Café (1994: Holt), and most recently in the three-volume textbook Literature: Craft and Voice / vol. 2: Poetry, by Nicholas Delbanco and Alan Cheuse (2010: McGraw-Hill). Performance videos may also be seen on YouTube.