100 Colorado Creatives: Suzi Q. Smith
Suzi Q. Smith in her role as Method Man with Lady Wu-Tang Clan.
#2: Suzi Q. Smith
Suzi Q. Smith's power lies in her words as well as her heart -- and the great gift she has for sharing both so freely, both as a poet on a stage and a bedrock cheerleader behind the scenes. But the 2012 Westword cover girl and nationally known slam poet has, over the years, found still more ways to touch hearts -- as a mentor, activist and just plain wonderful person, whose greatest inspiration is her own daughter.
We love the work she does; here's what she has to say about it.
See also: 100 Colorado Creatives: Poet Ken Arkind
Suzi Q. Smith onstage at the 2012 National Poetry Slam.
Photo by Jeremyah Payne.
If you could collaborate with anyone in history, who would it be, and why?
If I could collaborate with anyone in history, I think that I would choose James Baldwin. The insights in his work inspire me on a sea-change level, and I find myself returning to him over and over at different times in my life.
Who in the world is interesting to you right now, and why?
My daughter is the most interesting person I know. She is a freshman in high school, and she is becoming more herself every day, which is a fascinating process to watch. I can't think of anything more interesting than watching her bloom. Also, she is both brilliant and hilarious, and she enriches my life in immeasurable ways.
What's one art trend you want to see die this year?
I never want to see art die, but I will say that I am least interested in any art where the primary aim is to be clever. I know many people who are talented, creative geniuses. I am moved by the art that strikes me as the most honest.
What's your day job?
I am a teaching and performing artist full-time. I work with Youth on Record teaching Intro to Poetry and Spoken Word in a couple of area high schools, and I travel the U.S. performing my own poetry, mostly on college campuses.
A mystery patron offers you unlimited funds for life. What will you do with it?
If a mystery patron offered me unlimited funds for life, I would provide housing, food, education and health services for people around the world in a way that is sustainable and empowering. This could include a few artist communes where we raise goats, grow vegetables and write poetry.
What's the one thing Denver (or Colorado) could do to help the arts?
I think that the arts scene in Denver has grown tremendously over the last decade. There are any number of really cool arts events to go to every night of the week, from gallery openings to local music to poetry open mics - if you want it, you can probably find it, if you know the right people to ask. While the insular nature of our scene has collaborative rewards, I would love for Denver to make it easier to find the arts events for the people that aren't already deeply embedded in the scene.
As a Denver native, I have many favorite Colorado Creatives. I love working with Minor Disturbance, Youth on Record and Slam Nuba - these groups are constantly inspiring me. Also, I am thrilled to see the collaborative work of the Brain Food Collective, I think that they are doing some really cool things.
What's on your agenda in the coming year?
This year, I am releasing a new book of poems entitled Thirteen Descansos, and I'm really excited to be writing a play with my friends Ken Arkind, Bobby Lefebre and Theo Wilson. Also, I will continue my work with Youth On Record, in addition to Minor Disturbance and Slam Nuba. I will most certainly write lots of poems and maybe a bit of short fiction. And, of course, as I'm answering these questions from 30,000 feet in the air, I will definitely be traveling and performing poetry this year.
Who do you think will get noticed in the local arts (slam, spoken word, etc.) community in 2014?
I think that my dear friend Lady Speech Sankofa will begin to receive more attention this year, as she has long been writing, performing and creating community in Denver. She is an inspiration to innumerable poets in this city, and I would love to see her be as celebrated as she should be.
Learn more about Suzi Q. Smith on her Facebook page.
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