Suzi Q. Smith
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Suzi Q. Smith

Denver, Colorado, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2007 | SELF

Denver, Colorado, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2007
Solo Spoken Word Singer/Songwriter




"Word up: National Poetry Slam visits the Q.C."

Blumenthal facilities continue to buzz with wordplay this week, as the 23rd Annual National Poetry Slam winds down its preliminary bouts and kicks into semi-finals (Friday, Aug. 10) and overall finals (Saturday, Aug. 11) during the five-day competition that's brought more than 300 poets from across the U.S. and Canada.

The National Poetry Slam, which started in 1990 in San Francisco, has annually hosted its competition in various cities across the U.S., making it one of the most prestigious of its kind.

"In terms of teams in a poetry competition, the National Poetry Slam is the biggest. We have 74 teams this year," says Bluz, aka Boris Rogers, a host city coordinator for the event and MC/slam master of the local team SlamCharlotte.

This is the first time National Poetry Slam has stopped in Charlotte, though other notable poetry slams, including the Individual Poetry Slam and Southern Fried, have visited in the past.

In the competition, teams of four to five individuals perform together and sometimes on their own in front of audiences. Judges are chosen randomly to rate performers on a point scale of one to 10. Based on their scores, teams with the most points and highest ranking move on to the next level.

There are no rules on form, so anything from free verse to rhymes, haiku or sonnets are game, as long as they aren't plagiarized and don't run more than three minutes and 10 seconds (if they do, teams will face point deductions).

In this year's National Poetry Slam, two of the Q.C.'s own teams, SlamCharlotte and Respect da Mic, are competing. Other teams include NYC's Nuyorican Poets, Denver's Slam Nuba, Oakland's Golden State Slam, Columbus' Writing Wrongs, Honolulu's Hawaii Slam, Vancouver Poetry Slam and Toronto Poetry Slam.

CL caught up with three competing slammers who shared info about their styles, inspirations and slam experiences.

Suzi Q Smith, founder and slam master of Denver's Slam Nuba

2011 success: The Slam Nuba team was the champion of the 2011 National Poetry Slam. Smith ranked third in the Women of the World competition. She also was a semi-finalist at the National Poetry Slam and a finalist at Southwest Shootout and the Individual World Poetry Slam.

Muse/style: "I would say my work is pretty focused on social justice issues, and it's also generally very autobiographical. There are definitely a lot of themes of social justice in my work, but also in a lot of my life and the organizations I work with."

Fun fact: In 2008, Smith released Picks, Pistols, and Prayers, a spoken-word album that features a track dedicated to activist Huey P. Newton. Smith also collaborated with Belgian industrial electro rockers Psy'Aviah for a song called "Moments," after the band approached her via the Internet. "The video was fairly controversial. It got banned from YouTube," says Smith. "They thought that the language was too explicit, but actually there was no cursing anywhere in it. There was no actual violence or nudity, but there were some suggestive things. It was certainly disturbing and uncomfortable." Smith is currently collaborating with the group again, though she's yet to meet the members face-to-face. - Creative Loafing

"Student creativity finds new forms during National Day on Writing"

AURORA — Rob Hatcher opened his satchel and pulled out several notebooks, pages filled with thoughts, phrases, quotes and notes that, with time and work, would morph into verse.

Some of it he will transform into the spoken-word poetry he performs at open-mic nights and poetry slams — a relatively new passion for the 41-year-old student at Community College of Aurora.

"It's how I keep ideas alive," Hatcher said, leafing through the pages.

Those seeds of his poetry perfectly reflect the aim of the National Day on Writing, an annual celebration created by the National Council of Teachers of English to promote written expression through a variety of platforms.

On CCA's CentreTech campus Thursday, during a day-long program, students were enticed to flex their literary muscles aided by authors, poets and essayists offering inspiration to take their writing in new directions.

Then they were offered immediate opportunities for creativity: Pages of impromptu writing covered a wall at the school, while students also could tweet out a digital response to a prompt — "what is the key to academic success?" — with the hashtag #CCAwrites.

Nationally, the Twitter hashtags #WhatIWrite and #dayonwriting mark collections of student compositions.

Although much of day-to-day contemporary writing in social media constitutes a "modern front porch" style of communication, the hope for the fourth annual event was to expand students' understanding of other available outlets for their creativity, said Susan Achziger, an English faculty member at CCA who organizes the celebration.

"We want to move them from where they are (with social media) to somewhere else, so they do get excited about it," she said. "I like it when the idea grows from the bottom up."

Hatcher dabbled in writing "angsty, teenage stuff" in high school, where a creative-writing course expanded his pursuit into the realm of hobby.

Then, at last year's National Day on Writing event at CCA, he heard a presentation by Suzi Q. Smith, who has carved out a name in spoken-word poetry circles, and his writing veered toward slam poetry.

"It wasn't quite a religious experience," said Hatcher, recalling Smith's talk. "But it was like being in church and hearing a really good sermon. It profoundly touched me."

Hatcher now performs regularly at local venues and has even planned a trip to perform at an open-mic session at Harvard University. And while he enjoys performing — a class in public speaking helped him hone those skills — he still commits the best of his material to the printed page.

That may seem old-school by digital standards, but Achziger figures that writing in all its forms benefits students.

Read more: Student creativity finds new forms during National Day on Writing - The Denver Post
Read The Denver Post's Terms of Use of its content:
- Denver Post

"Slam, Bam, Thank You Ma'Am"

Slam poet Suzi Q. Smith brought a national championship to Denver
A A A Comments (2) By Kelsey Whipple Tuesday, Feb 14 2012

When I laugh, I mean it.
Suzi Q. Smith takes on the role of Method Man with Lady Wu-Tang.
Suzi Q. Smith takes on the role of Method Man with Lady Wu-Tang.
Suzi Q. Smith's twelve-year-old daughter, Kai, is her greatest inspiration.
Suzi Q. Smith's twelve-year-old daughter, Kai, is her greatest inspiration.
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More About

Suzi Smith
Theo Wilson
Bobby Lefebre
Arts, Entertainment, and Media
Hip-Hop and Rap

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Loud and from my belly.

Throw my head back, shake my hair

And even show the generous gap between my two front teeth.

It is when I am quiet that it is time to pay attention.

When I am quiet something big is about to happen.

It is 9 a.m., and in the back seat, Suzi Q. Smith is silent. One hour into the two-and-a-half-hour drive to Laramie, the poet is alone with her thoughts, looking out the window of the rental car at the empty fields. Her ability to focus is remarkable: Smith can go from being the center of a crowd to completely alone in the split second it takes her to concentrate. She has made this trip many times before; she does not need to practice.

An illness keeps Smith from driving alone, so she and fellow poets Bobby Lefebre and Theo Wilson are traveling together to the University of Wyoming, where they'll teach a class in slam poetry. Up in the front seat, Lefebre and Wilson are working through the lines of "Devil's Pie," a raucous, poignant and ultimately pointed piece about racism, shouting out lines that pit the Mexican and African-American races — their own — against each other.

Smith stays quiet until they ask for directions.

"We just keep going until we're there," she says. She pauses for a beat, then laughs. "That's kind of my life story, come to think of it."


When I am quiet I am concentrating.

When I am quiet I am going to climax.

When I am quiet I love you too powerful to speak.

When I am quiet I am going to take off your pants and change your life.

Smith was born 33 years ago at St. Anthony's Hospital, the youngest of four children. When she was little, her father thought she couldn't speak; she let her older siblings speak for her. But she could read and write before she started kindergarten — and it turned out that she had plenty to say, even if she didn't often say it out loud. Her youth was a quiet one, though many of her friends now find that hard to believe.

"We'd catch her by herself singing or dancing in the corner, and as soon as we did, she'd deny it," remembers Buddy Smith, her older brother. "Now when I go see her on stage, I'm like, 'Wow, that's my little sister.'"

When she was three, she and her siblings moved in with their paternal grandmother in Park Hill. Her grandmother, now 82, was raised during the Depression, and she reinforced Smith's interest in the written word, reading Harlem Renaissance poetry — Paul Laurence Dunbar, Langston Hughes — to her grandchildren in the TV-free living room. She also read the Bible and took the kids to church, where she played the piano five times a week.

For high school, Smith moved to Littleton to live with her mother. For most of her life, she has had zero contact with her father, who figures occasionally in her poetry. "Every time she reads something, I find something in there that applies to us as siblings, and it's gut-wrenching," her oldest sister, Rebecca, says. "I'm proud of the way she's been able to express it on behalf of all of us."

In college at Colorado State University, Smith studied English and creative writing before dropping out in 1997 to earn money. She has not attended a class on campus since 2002, but in the intervening years has taken online classes for the University of Colorado Denver degree she will finalize in summer 2013; after that, she hopes to pursue a master of fine arts so that she can teach at the university level. But while her lack of formal education prohibits her from holding a permanent teaching position, it has not prevented her from entering the academic sphere — or from pursuing her poetry.

As far back as she can remember, Smith was always writing. By the - Westword

"Acclaimed authors and spoken word artists to celebrate National Day on Writing at CCA"

The Community College of Aurora will celebrate the National Day on Writing on Thursday, Oct. 20, with a slate of events aimed at both students and the community. All events are free and open to the public and will take place in the Student Centre Rotunda on the CentreTech Campus, 16000 E. CentreTech Parkway in Aurora.

National Day on Writing events at CCA are:

9:30-10:45 a.m.: Wayne Gilbert, Poet: “The Spirit of Spoken Word.” An interactive workshop.

11 a.m.-12:15 p.m.: Acclaimed author Carleen Brice speaks on “The Writer’s Journey: From Idea to Completion in One Million Easy Steps (Some of Which Go in Circles).” Brice is author of the novels Orange Mint and Honey, a number-one Denver Post best-seller and Essence Magazine “recommended read”—and Children of the Waters, which AOL Black Voices says “sparkles.” The Lifetime Movie “Sins of the Mother,” based on Orange Mint and Honey, won the 2011 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding TV Movie.

12:30-2 p.m. Performances by Suzi Q Smith and Bobby LeFebre - back by popular demand!

Suzi Q Smith is a spoken word artist who has been lighting up stages throughout the United States for more than a decade. Her work has been published in numerous anthologies and literary magazines, and her name is well known on the slam and spoken word circuit. She has been featured on numerous tv and radio programs, and her poetry has been sampled and remixed all over the world, earning both high acclaim and controversy.

Bobby LeFebre is a Denver-born spoken word artist, actor, and activist. Bobby LeFebre is an award-winning spoken word artist, actor, and social worker. He is a company actor with Denver's only Latino Theater, El Centro Su Teatro, and has performed in countless productions as an actor for the last 10 years. Combining his passion for education and performance, LeFebre is founder of Cafe Cultura, Denver's largest monthly open mic and artistic expression event serving the Mile High inner-city community.

2-3:15 p.m. Author and poet Dan Guenther: “Writing: An Anchor to Life-long Learning and Discovery.” Novelist Guenther was a captain in the U.S. Marine Corps, serving in Vietnam, where he was awarded the Bronze Star with “V” for valor. His novel Glossy Black Cockatoos was the 2010 Colorado Authors' League Award selection for Genre Fiction. Prior to retiring in 2005, Guenther spent more than 30 years providing process improvement, leadership coaching, team building, and organization development to both government and industry.

3:30-4:45 p.m.: Rachel Ankney: “Ekphrasis: Deriving Poetry from Art.” Interactive Workshop. - CCA

"Wu-Tang style Are Lady Wu-Tang hip-hop’s first true cover group?"

After almost a year of bumping “Protect Ya Neck,” “Tearz,” and “Method Man,” The Wu-Tang Clan took the hip-hop world by the throat when they released their debut album, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) on Nov. 9, 1993. Eight members deep on their debut, The RZA, The GZA, Ol Dirty Bastard, Inspectah Deck, Raekwon the Chef, U-God, Ghostface Killah and Method Man, The Wu-Tang Clan consisted of a cast of characters who all had a signature voice, style and personality that fused together to create some sort of super-group of unknown superstars.

The album, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), spoke on the realities of living in New York City in the early-’90s over gritty, raw, unstructured, Kung Fu flick-inspired beats produced by The RZA. Each member rapped with a hunger, passion and charisma that mesmerized the listener, making hardcore underground hip-hop fans pick their favorite member as if it was some sort of boy band. Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) went down in history as one of the greatest hip-hop albums of all time.

But that album was just the beginning. In the years that followed, each member would release critically acclaimed albums of their own. Method Man’s Tical, Raekwon’s Only Built for Cuban Links, Ol Dirty Bastard’s Return to the 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version and Ghostface Killah’s Ironman, among others, solidified Wu-Tang’s presence and influence on hip-hop throughout the 1990s. They inspired and spawned many affiliated groups like Sunz of Man, GP Wu, Killarmy and so many other groups and solo artists that a Wu-Tang Affiliates Wikipedia page had to be created. But none of them could capture that energy and excitement of the original Wu-Tang Clan.

With most revered bands and groups comes the case of cover bands. Led Zepplin has a few. As well as Pink Floyd, The Grateful Dead, Prince, The Time and other musical icons. Some of them are good, some of them not so good. But the purpose for the majority of these collectives is to honor the music that inspired them. In the hip-hop world, however, it’s taboo as an artist to rap lyrics that aren’t yours, so the cover groups honoring hip-hop heroes are few and far between, if there are any at all. The closest you get is karaoke at a bar or recent karaoke video games like Def Jam Rapstar. But it appears the tides are changing.

Lady Wu-Tang is an all-women Wu-Tang Clan cover group consisting of Denver-based rappers, poets, DJs and performance artists, giving tribute to one of the greatest hip-hop groups of all time. Ru Johnson, a Denver-based journalist who covers the Colorado hip-hop scene, came up with the idea for the project while on a trip to Chicago last year.

“'Bring Da Ruckus’ scrolled through my iPod while I was walking through the city. I was like this is dope, there really hasn’t been a huge posse that has sustained for years like Wu-Tang,” Johnson says. “So then I started thinking about what would happen if the real Wu-Tang were all women in the first place? Like, would they be able to do some of the outrageous things that make them such an epic group in hip-hop history? Then I was like, I know a bunch of girls who rap and who are performance artists, so what if we did that? What if we actually created an all-female Wu-Tang Clan and did the 36 Chambers album as a cover show?”

Johnson flew back to Denver, connected with her business partner Michelle Mata, and started contacting women within the local music and arts scene. She ended up putting together a mix of well-known women who have been putting in work on the Denver arts scene for years: Bianca Mikahn (Raekwon the Chef), Suzi Q. Smith (Method Man), DJ Manizer (GZA), DJ Bella Scratch (Inspectah Deck), Isis Speaks (Ol' Dirty Bastard), LadySpeech (Ghostface Killah), Xencs L. Wing (RZA) and Ralonda Simmons (U-God and other vocals).

“The good thing is that they are these amazing poets and artists in the city, but we have access to them individually. I know a lot of the girls personally,” Johnson says about casting the group. “We tried to take who they are as people and put that right into their character.”

The idea was just to do a one-time tribute show honoring the Wu-Tang Clan at Denver’s Walnut Room last January. But the response was more than overwhelming. The show was sold out and the doors had to be closed, preventing even some of the group’s family members from seeing the show, according to Johnson.

“It was exciting, it was validating,” says LadySpeech, a poet who hosts a bi-weekly poetry night at the Gypsy House in Denver. “Knowing that we sold out the show was dope and real vindicating, it was real satisfactory. And my people don’t know I have a lot of different hats that I wear and it was really good to like show and prove, like ‘I can do this too, muthafuckas! I can rap too, bitches!’ So doing that show was dope. It created such a fire up under me and I fell back in love with Wu-Tang.”

“It was amazing, it was absolutely amazing,” adds Suzi Q., an awarding-winn - Boulder Weekly

"The Mile High Makeout: Denver divas salute the Wu-Tang Clan"

“Women are the change agents far and wide, and always have been.”

Ru Johnson is fired up about her latest project. On Jan 22, Johnson and her creative partner, Michelle Mata, will bring nine of Denver’s finest female poets, singers, spoken word performers and emcees together on the stage at the Walnut Room. The purpose: to pay tribute to one of the most influential hip-hop albums of the ’90s, “Enter the Wu-Tang Clan (36 Chambers).” But simply replicating the album is far from their minds.

“Michelle and I want it to be about women taking a stand,” says Johnson, who also writes about hip-hop for Westword. “This is a reminder that there are women in your city who are iller than used Kleenex.”

Johnson and Mata, both steeped in Colorado hip-hop, have indeed recruited some very, um, ill talent, each paired with a Wu-Tang member, based on their values, styles and artistic approaches.

Soul and jazz vocalist Venus Cruz will portray Masta Killa. “The Wu have a lot of hardcore, gritty raps, but there’s a soulful element too,” Johnson explains. “She’ll be able to fill in those soulful gaps.”

Though artist Xencs Little Wing performs infrequently, she maintains a strong reputation in the Denver community, which makes her ideally suited, in Johnson and Mata’s opinion, to take on the role of the RZA. “She is one of the most artistically sound individuals I’ve come across in my life,” Johnson asserts.

Politically and socially, poet Suzi Q. Smith might be as far from the Wu’s Method Man as you can get. However, Johnson sees Smith as the perfect fit. “It has to be someone who is all-encompassing and confident,” she says. “Suzi Q will Langston Hughes your ass to death. There is no other person in the universe who will spit Method Man as hard as she will.”
Isis Speaks

Isis Speaks will portray Ol' Dirty Bastard.

The lineup for the night will also include Isis Speaks as Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Bianca Mikahn as Raekwon, Lady Speech as Ghostface Killah, DJ Manizer as the GZA, Patience (a.k.a. DJ Bella Scratch) as Inspectah Deck and Billie Jean as U-God. Nofrendo, the sole male performer, will provide the beats.

For Johnson, the idea of putting the Wu-Tang Clan’s words into the mouths of strong Denver women is about more than just having fun and celebrating hip-hop. It also put the role of women in hip-hop under the microscope.

Billie Jean will portray U-God.

Billie Jean will portray U-God.
“Every woman in this show will stand on her own soapbox with her paintbrush, her poetry or book of rhymes, and she’ll face the misogyny that is not only reflected in hip-hop at a local level, but as a society,” Johnson proclaims. “This is revolutionary. It is something that is going to change how hip-hop is digested in this city.”

If that sounds a little hyperbolic and a lot ambitious, you haven’t met Ru Johnson. Last year, for her 26th birthday, the political activist and writer through herself a party at the Walnut Room, with 26 local hip-hop and soul performers. Dubbed LollipaRUza 2010, that mammoth event sowed the seeds for this month’s show, as well as a series of shows that Johnson and Mata plan to produce throughout this year.

“I’ve always been good at getting people to go to things,” Johnson — who sees her writing and production as part of a larger artistic, cultural and social revolution — says of herself. “I consider myself someone who understands a culture and I’m able to move within my culture and set the tone for how my culture is viewed from the outside. I do that music and through writing and through being a creative bad motherfucker. If that means we’re throwing shows, we’re throwing shows. If we’re gonna save the world, we’re gonna save the world.”

Hearing Johnson’s confident words and resolute facial expression, it’s hard to doubt that she’ll play at least a supporting role in saving the world.

“I’m sick of wanting to what it’s like to see things happen,” she says. “I’m just gonna do it.” - Reverb

"The Merc Slam Team's Suzi Q. Smith opens strong at the Slam Nationals, Denver teams advance"

Slam poetry is to the literary world what hip-hop music is to jazz -- a progression of talent and a revolutionary outlet. Denver is lucky to boast of two solid teams that compete nationally. Both Slam Nuba and the Denver Mercury Cafe Poetry Slam Team advanced to the semi-finals last night at the National Poetry Slam taking place in Boston and Cambridge, MA.

There are officially 72 teams in the competition, and both Denver teams are in the top 20. Suzi Q. Smith, of the Mercury Cafe's team, took first place in the first bout, with her poem "Lazarus."

"Winning the first bout was so exciting! It definitely felt validating, like the work we've been doing individually for years in addition to the work we've done as a team this summer was received and appreciated," Smith says, noting that the team has since advanced to the semi-finals after taking on Ft. Worth. "I went first with 'Lazarus', then we sent up two group pieces and a poem from Shane Romero about LeBron James and Oscar Grant. We took the two in our bout last night, battling it out with Fort Worth, who Slam Nuba had squeezed a victory past by a tenth of a point the night before. The great thing about it is that we are all -- Ft Worth included -- going on to semi-finals."

Not only was the win exhilarating , Smith says, but the opportunity to work with such a diverse group of talent is a great reward. "The team has been a great experience for all of us, growing through the challenges and stretching past our comfort zones. Our time is one of the most diverse that I have ever seen, and none of us have ever worked together before (with the exception of myself and coach Bianca Mikahn, who have co-coached in the past)."

The Mercury Cafe team consists of Megan Rickman, Trevor Byrne- Smith, Paulie Lipman, Shane Romero and Suzi Q. Smith, and is coached by both Bianca Mikahn and Ian Dougherty. The competition continues tonight for the final four. - Westword

"About Suzi Q. Smith"

wikipedia page - Wikipedia

"Poet Suzi Q in Oshkosh"

Another interesting event in the TUG

Poet Suzi Q made an appearance on campus Thursday night. She was very entertaining for many reasons.

*One: Her poems were all memorized, and performed amazingly

*Two: Her poetry had so much passion to them when she spoke them

*Three: Even if you’re not into poetry you have to appreciate the messages she was bringing across in her poems

*Four: She could relate to the audience

And what I mean by that is that in between her poetry she could chat a bit with the audience, she even was a bit comical.

At one point she invited a student with her on stage to share a Haiku she had written about the recent news story with the boy in the balloon.

Suzi Q started her piece with a bit of a song she had written, then for her finale she ended her show with a tune of her own.

I like to read and write poetry and I can appreciate the amount of time and work she puts into her performance. And although her audience was not huge, there was a good turnout of people who all very much appreciate poetry as well.
- Kimberly Albertin

"100-plus jam coffeehouse to support the 'Jena Six'"

100-plus jam coffeehouse to support the 'Jena Six'

By Tillie Fong, Rocky Mountain News
September 21, 2007
Poetry was mixed with calls for action Thursday night as Denver black artists came together to denounce racism.

"We know this place - it's ever changing and forever the same.

"What a feast for the beast at the table of shame.

"We know this place," Sirat Al Salim told a packed crowd at a Denver coffeehouse.

Salim joined jazz singer Rene Marie, recording engineer Jesse Johnson, costume designer Linda Morken and filmmaker donnie betts, who does not capitalize his name, in organizing a speak-out and rally in support of the six black students in Louisiana known as the Jena Six.

"We are praying for the Jena Six, that justice will come to not only all of Louisiana but all of this land," said Jeff Fard, known as "Brother Jeff," who moderated the event.

More than 100 people packed Blackberries coffeehouse in Five Points, overflowing into rows of chairs outside. The attendance surprised organizers.

"We were hoping that five people would show up," said betts, as he passed around a plastic bucket for donations to the Jena 6 Defense Committee. A total of $1,812.25 was collected.

Fard was delighted. "There is so much community in this place," he said.

Many in the crowd said they felt compelled to attend.

"If we don't speak out, no one else will," said Suzi Q. Smith, 28, of Denver, who did an impassioned reading of one of her poems.

Tom Socotch, 20, of Portland, Ore., was holding a sign that read: "Regis students support the Jena 6." "It's important that we speak out against injustice," he said.
- Rocky Mountain News


2013 NACA West Showcase
2013 Co-Champion, Taos Poetry Festival
2013 NACA Mid-Atlantic Showcase
2013 Women of the World Poetry Slam Finalist
2012 National Poetry Slam Semi-Finalist
2012 Champion, Taos Poetry Festival
2012 Southwest Shootout Champion (Team)
2012 Chair, Women of the World Poetry Slam
2011 Individual World Poetry Slam Finalist
2011 Women of the World Poetry Slam Finalist
2011 Co-Champion, Taos Poetry Festival
2011 Southwest Shootout Finalist
2011 National Poetry Slam Semi-Finalist
2009 NACA Nationals Selection
2009 Coach, Slam Nuba Denver Team
2008 NACA Mid-Atlantic Showcase



Suzi Q. is a dynamic performer, lighting up stages for years. Among the highest-ranked slam poets in the country, she has performed all over the U.S. for years. Suzi Q. Smith performs poetry and music throughout the U.S., in addition to leading workshops on writing and performance. Her captivating and passionate performances have consistently earned her a place among the best spoken word artists in the nation.

Band Members