‘The purpose of art is to comfort the disturbed, and to disturb the comfortable’, and that’s what I want to do.” – Deanna Smith (Quote by Cesar A Cruz, Mexican poet and human rights activist)

Spoken word poet Deanna Smith’s online workshop tackled a challenging and vital issue during a time that has been filled with upheaval and change.  With compassion and focus, backed by lived experience and deep research, Deanna helped participants grapple with the effects of racism on Black people, its toll on mental-emotional health, and how poetry can be a means to decompress tension.  

Participants commended the workshop as being ‘well designed and developed’, while dealing with a complex and traumatic issue at the intersection of colonialism and racism.  They said Deanna “is a great communicator, efficient and meticulous… a born educator.  She’s thoughtful and brings other people to seek their own thoughtfulness”.  Another participant praised, “she did the whole thing with so much grace and warmth that after the first week I couldn’t wait to come back for the second one.”

An educator who took part commented that the virtual workshop was “fantastic because it could be shared with children as young as 4 or 5 years old, and academics who have been working on the subject for 20, 30, 40 years of their career. And everyone has something to learn!”  

Deanna does in fact also write poetry and stories for children, and has said she hopes “that if they get the truth early enough, it will stay with them in strong opposition to everything to the contrary”. She offers poetry/creative writing/spoken word/slam workshops for people ages 4 and up. 

Deanna’s own inspiration to write, “comes from life…. current events, things that happen in the news, things I hear about in the news, injustices, things I want to make right.”  She believes that art has the ability to heal and bring light to people.  “Ultimately I believe that people can choose good.  We don’t always do it but we can.  We can choose good for ourselves, we can choose good for others.” 

Deanna Smith, poet & spoken word artist

Watch Deanna Smith recite!

A teacher’s response to Deanna Smith’s workshop ‘Canada too, eh?’

Participants’ reflections on Deanna’s workshop.