Deanna Smith a Montreal-based poet, performer, and educator. She runs poetry, creative writing, spoken word, and slam workshops with participants age 4 and up. Her influences include the poets, storytellers, and playwrights of the Harlem Renaissance and Black Arts Movement, the Beats, contemporary spoken word artists and peers in creative communities across Canada. Her work is often autobiographical and deals with the experiences of womanhood, social inequality, history, and family life.
Unfortunately not. I read trashy romance novels that often began with, "In the year of our Lord..." at that time. It wasn't until my twenties that I discovered Maya Angelou, Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, Nikki Giovanni, and Sonia Sanchez. I loved Maya Angelou's "Phenomenal Woman" the moment I read it. It changed everything.
I don't remember not writing poetry or stories. It began very early, in elementary school or before that. I always thought of myself as a writer but I began to think of myself as a poet more seriously about ten years ago.
I think the job of a poet is, as Nina Simone said of artists, to "reflect the times in which we live". I agree with Rumi who said, "The wound is where the light enters you." I think the job of the poet is sometimes to create that wound, to pierce through the armor and masks we wear, to get to the truth and use language as a balm, and to offer the light and joy of transendence to heal the pain we all endure.
"Invitation to Love" by Paul Laurence Dunbar.