Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Charles R. Smith Jr. (Virginia Hamilton Conference)

To paraphrase, Charles R. Smith Jr., in true multicultural literature, every individual grows.  For him, it appears that photography and writing, particularly poetry ("finding the right words, not necessarily fancy or long or rhyming"), is the mode for individual and societal sharing and ultimately, growth.

During his presentation at the 2011 Virginia Hamilton Conference on April 8, he performed his poems and shared his life; As a child, "I turned to books ... to help me fly" (from track 10 on About Me) and became inspired by various artistic and noteworthy African Americans (see track 11 from Inspirations), including Ms. Nikki Giovanni, who was also a speaker at the conference.

He is a phenomenal performer and witty wordsmith (you'll get his flavor as you listen to track fifteen "I Am a Poet - a Capella"), but I wish I could have recorded and put his presentation on Youtube.  When I got Portrait of a Poet signed (only MP3 downloads are available on Amazon), I did ask if he had already put performances on Youtube.  He answered that he hadn't but that they may have been posted by others.  While I haven't found such poem performance videos, here is a link to Simon and Schuster's Youtube video where he discusses his 2010 Coretta Scott King Award (illustration) book My People.  You can also view a still of the performance in my photo collection below.

One of his last thoughts was, "We are all made up of a variety of things that make us human beings."
Thank you for your work, Mr. Smith.

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