patricia smith, poet

Your audience gave the best feedback through their tears and their applause, but here’s mine for what it’s worth…you were the zenith in the emotional arch of our gathering. You will be the single guest everyone in that audience will clearly recall a decade from now. You have become our new measurement for powerful content and emotional impact.”
---Linda Smith, creative director, Hallmark Cards

For  a sample of Patricia's work, choose any of the three presentations below.

Since first taking the stage of the Green Mill in Chicago more than 15 years ago, Patricia Smith has defined poetry in performance. Her unmistakable signature was forged during those early days at the city’s many open mics and in her early domination of the poetry slam—in the toughest place of all, the big-shouldered city where the slam was born.

Smith epitomizes what a performance poet should be: supremely confident, radiating with presence, drilling each word for precise effect, no nuance or inflection too small for consideration. Perhaps the greatest irony is that her talent for performance often eclipses her writing ability—which is, likewise, immense.”
---Victor Infante, Orange County Weekly

Patricia changes the energy in any room that she enters. And her work defies categorization—readings are often a heady mix of haunting personas, meditations on current events and jazz-tinged improvisation. Personal reminiscences about growing up unsure and imperfect, her close relationship with her father and the mine-littered landscape of race and class have made her hugely popular with teen and young adult audiences.

The most common question afterward was how our members could see more of you.”
---Susan Herman, National Conference for Teachers of English

To encourage fledgling writers in the search for their own signature voices, Patricia often combines her performances with workshops or short residencies; she also collaborates with musicians and other poets to create a program tailored to the needs of the sponsor. Describe your dream event, and she’ll make it happen.

Writing conferences and festivals. Kindergarten classrooms. Prisons. Barnes & Noble. A train platform in Berlin. Jazz clubs. Harvard Law School. A Chicago mayoral inauguration. Several thousand African-American History Month celebrations. Libraries. Juvenile detention centers. HBO’s “Def Poetry Jam.” Osaka, in front of 10,000 Japanese businessmen. Collaborating with The Urban Bush Women. The beach in Bahia. A Milwaukee bar filled with some very testy bikers. Baptist churches. Right before Viggo Mortensen. Right after Madeline Albright. Under the direction of a Nobel Prize winner. In a commercial for Oil of Olay. Patricia’s voice has been everywhere.

Not convinced? Check out this unsolicited testimony: