Social Justice Poet Danez Smith Performs Reading, March 29
Critically-acclaimed poet and performer Danez Smith, winner of multiple prestigious literary awards, will perform a free poetry reading at Fairfield University on Wednesday, March 29, at 7 p.m. in the Faber Hall Dining Commons. The intimate evening of spoken word is presented by the University’s Black Lives Matter course with support from the College of Arts and Sciences, the Core Writing program, Peace and Justice Studies program, Black Studies program, the Connecticut Writing Project and Residence Life.
With a stunningly original voice that transcends artistic boundaries, Danez Smith uses rhythm, creativity and raw power to produce powerful literary works that center on the intersections of race, class, sexuality and faith. As a black, queer and HIV positive writer and performer, Smith is revered for utilizing these unique talents to raise awareness of contemporary social justice issues. It is because of this commitment that Fairfield University Core Writing Program Professor Jill Bodach believes Smith’s voice is essential for students to hear.
“I think it is important for students to see a young poet like Danez raising awareness of contemporary social justice issues,” Bodach said. “Too often poetry can seem out of reach to students. Danez’s work is very accessible, even to those who wouldn’t think of themselves as poets.”
Winner of the 2014 Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry and a finalist for the Norma Farber First Book Award from the Poetry Society of America, Smith is the author of [insert] boy (2014, YesYes Books) and Don’t Call Us Dead (2017, Graywolf Press). Smith’s work has been featured in Poetry Magazine, Buzzfeed, Blavity and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and has earned a place in the American Academy of Poet’s Emerging Writers Series. Rounding out Danez’s resume are two finalist spots in the Individual World Poetry Slam, as well as being named a 2014 Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellow and a recipient of a McKnight Foundation Fellowship.
With a steadfast voice used to give life to a host of concerns that persist in society, Bodach said she hopes Smith will inspire Fairfield students to use their voices to incite change -- just like Danez.
“I hope this event inspires students to use their talents -- whatever they may be -- to fight for social justice, because as far as we’ve come in the fight for equality, we still have a long way to go,” she said. “We need voices like Danez Smith’s to remind us of our humanity.”