Internationally renowned poet Patricia Smith will give a free public reading from her work at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 12, on the Ripon College campus. The reading will be in Great Hall of Harwood Student Union, 300 Seward St. A book signing and reception will follow.
Recognized as one of the world’s most formidable literary performers, Smith has read her work at venues around the world. A four-time individual champion on the National Poetry Slam—the most successful slammer in the competition’s history—Smith also has been a featured poet on HBO’s Def Poetry Jam and has performed three one-woman plays, one produced by Nobel Prize winner Derek Walcott.
“Shoulda Been Jimi Savannah” (Coffee House Press), her sixth book of poetry, was a National Book Award finalist and a William Carlos William Award finalist from the Poetry Society of America. “Blood Dazzler” (Coffee House Press) was nominated for a National Book Award as well as named one of National Public Radio’s Top Five books of 2008. The book chronicles the human, physical and emotional toll exacted by Hurricane Katrina, a catastrophic natural event with lasting spiritual and political impact.
Smith currently is working on a biography of Harriet Tubman, a collection of short fiction, and a coffee table book combining poetry with nineteenth century photos of African Americans.
Recordings of her work can be found on the CD “Always in the Head” as well as in the compilations “Grand Slam,” “A Snake in the Heart” “By Someone’s Good Graces” and “Lip.”
Additional video clips of Smith performing her work are available by clicking here.
She has received a Pushcart Prize and the Carl Sandburg Award for her poetry; the Robert L. Fish Award from the Mystery Writers of America for a story “When They Are Done With Us”; and the Lee & Low Books’ New Voices Award for the children’s book “Janna and the Kings.” She also wrote “Africans in America,” a companion volume to the groundbreaking PBS documentary.
Smith teaches in the Stonecoast MFA program at Sierra Nevada College and is a professor of creative writing at the City University of New York/College of Staten Island.
Her visit to Ripon is sponsored by the Ripon College Visiting Writers Series, with assistance from the Schang Family Visiting Writer Fund. For more information, contact David Graham, Department of English, at 748-8722.