Through Poetry And TED Talks, Clint Smith Probes Racism In America (via WBUR)

Clint Smith is the 2014 National Poetry Slam champion and has given popular TED Talks on living as an African-American man in the United States.

Earlier this fall he published his first book of poetry, “Counting Descent.” He joins Here & Now‘s Robin Young to talk about the book.

On what sparked his interest in writing poetry

“I’ve been writing poetry seriously since about 2008, 2009. I had a summer internship in New York City, and I went to the [Nuyorican Poets Cafe], which is a famous poetry cafe on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. And so I went there and was just incredibly blown away by so much of the work that I saw, and had never been so viscerally moved by art as I had that evening. And I left, and I was kinda like, ‘I don’t know what this is, but I want to do it.’ And so I’ve been writing since then.

“And then I started graduate school the same week that Mike Brown was killed [in Ferguson, Missouri]. So it was impossible for me to sort of disentangle everything that I was learning of U.S. inequality — and specifically through the lens of race — and then seeing sort of the current manifestations and residue of that history served as catalysts to write this collection. I think for me it was a means of sort of processing and humanizing and seeking to grapple with what we were seeing at that time.”

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WBUR | Clint Smith

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