Deanna Smith

Deanna Smith's picture
Biography: 

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. She performs regularly with the Kalmunity Vibe Collective and is a member of the Throw Poetry Collective. Her influences include the poets, storytellers, and playwrights of the Harlem Renaissance and Black Arts Movement, the Beats and 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.

Micro-interview: 
Did you read poetry when you were in high school? Is there a particular poem that you loved when you were a teenager?: 

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.

When did you first start writing poetry? And then when did you start thinking of yourself as a poet?: 

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. 

What do you think a poet’s “job” is?: 

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. 

If you had to choose one poem to memorize from our anthology, which one would it be?: 

"Invitation to Love" by Paul Laurence Dunbar.

Publications: 
Poem title(s): 
Opening Speech
Title: 
Montreal Serai Magazine
Publisher: 
Montreal Serai Magazine
Date: 
January 2019
Publication type: 
Periodical/Magazine
Poem title(s): 
i ain't gonna study ward no more
Title: 
The Great Black North - Contemporary African Canadian Poetry
Publisher: 
Frontenac House
Editors: 
Valerie Masson-John, Kevan Cameron
Date: 
2013
Publication type: 
Anthology
Poem title(s): 
Snowflake
Title: 
Migratory Words Anthology
Publisher: 
Migratory Words
Editors: 
Dave Eso
Date: 
2010
Publication type: 
Anthology