About This Episode:
In this episode of VIDA Voices and Views, Melissa Studdard interviews poet and fiction writer, Patricia Smith, who reads from her award-winning poetry collection Shoulda Been Jimi Savannah and discusses topics ranging from the poetic inspiration of children’s books to learning how to use technique to resonate your voice in the reader’s head.
About Patricia Smith:
A renaissance artist of unmistakable signature, Patricia Smith has been called “a testament to the power of words to change lives.” She has authored and edited six critically-acknowledged volumes of poetry, a children’s book, a crime fiction anthology, and a companion volume to the groundbreaking PBS history series, Africans in America. Her numerous accolades include the Rebekah Bobbitt Prize from the Library of Congress, the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize from the Academy of American Poets, and the Phillis Wheatley Award in Poetry. As well, she is recognized as one of the world’s most formidable performers and is a four-time national individual champion of the Poetry Slam. She was featured in the film “Slamnation,” and appeared on the HBO series “Def Poetry Jam.” Additionally, her works have been transformed into award-winning films and plays, and her vocals have been featured on jazz CDs and radio commercials. An accomplished and sought-after instructor of poetry, performance, and creative writing, Patricia often appears at creative conferences and residencies and is a Cave Canem faculty member, a professor of English at CUNY/College of Staten Island, and a faculty member of the Sierra Nevada MFA program.
To learn more about Patricia Smith, please visit: http://www.wordwoman.ws/
Photograph by Rachel Eliza Griffiths
Patricia Smith Quotes from This Episode of VIDA Voices & Views:
“When something comes back to your head more than three times, it’s begging to be written about.”
“If you learn how to look at the world the way a poet looks at the world, you will lose your mind—because inspiration smacks you in the face wherever you are.”
“[Poetry] is one of the only things you can do where your voice is always legitimate.”
“I want to be able to put a poem I’ve written on a table and have someone pick it up and say ‘Patricia, you must have dropped this poem’ and my name’s not on it … We should all be in pursuit of signature.”
“If you don’t tell your own story or even find a way to tell snippets of your own story, you give permission for someone else to do it.”
“I kind of think of poetry as a second throat.”
“When you’re afraid of parts of your story, you’re afraid to even write them down.”
“The key is to still have all that feeling and all that spontaneity in the poem but be able to bring it under a structure so that there’s a tension developed.”
“If you say you are impassioned about writing, you should want to write in as many ways as possible.”