Suzi Q Smith: Teaches and Inspires Through Words


Suzi Q Smith

Songwriter and Lifetime Poet

Poet and songwriter Suzi Q Smith has been writing poetry all her life. Since her teens, she’s been setting yearly goals to better her art, and ten years later she is a recognizable voice in poetry. Now she is using her lyrical talents to help others achieve their goals.

Alongside performing she teaches at Youth On Record, an education program located in Denver, CO that teaches music to underserved populations. The program, formally known as, was created by the rock band The Flobots in 2008. She teaches lyricism, creative writing, spoken word, and emcee school.

Teaching her Students Writing and the Business

“Students get to learn the ins and outs of the business. [For] The ones who are really interested we have a studio and we get them access to instruments, internships, and they also learn the office side of the industry such as grant writing,” Smith said.

Recently, students in the program had the chance to work with other big name artists including 21 Pilots and Imagine Dragons.

Scheduling a Plate Full of Responsibilities

In addition to teaching and working on her material, she’s also the executive director of Poetry Slam Inc. With a plate full of responsibilities, how does she find the time to keep everything in order? She says it takes a severe level of organizational skills.

“I have to create a boundary setting to create work and make space. It’s important for me to schedule everything, especially as an independent artist meaning bookings, marketings, and getting to these places. It takes a lot of different skillsets.”

Although she is taking a break from touring this year, she continues to look at other ventures to express her creativity. Currently, she is talking about touring her production “How I Got Over” after it’s opening in March sold out. Even with added responsibility, she wants to stay independent to have creative control with her work.

Remembering a Lifetime of Poetry

Born and raised in Denver, Smith said that poetry was a tradition in her household. She would write poems with her grandmother.

“My great-grandfather was a poet, so we heard a lot of poems from the Harlem Renaissance. We would listen to works from guys like Paul Laurence Dunbar, and it became a common tradition in my grandmother’s house.”

She recalls the first poems she wrote when she was a kid. She particularly remembers how dark and sad they were. “I remember they weren’t good, but at the time I thought they were amazing,” Smith said.

Mission to Revive the Art of the Spoken Word

One of her goals is to reintroduce the art of spoken word to the world by doing at least one project a year. With the help of the internet, people can access different poems from all over. Smith would like for everyone to have at least five favorite poets that are living.

Her favorite poems to perform include “Black Rage in Four Part Harmony” and “Sleeping Giant”. She wants her work to connect and move people to think a different way after her performances. This is done by putting truth in her poetry rather than what someone wants to hear.

Be Your Own Audience First

“The key to creating a relatable poem is to be your own audience first. Before you create something for others you have to get closer to your own truth. The more honest you are with your heart the audience will present itself.”

Smith graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Colorado at Denver. She also worked as an activist with civil rights organizations, victims advocate organizations, arts organizations, and peace organizations, amongst others.

Smith was a finalist in the Women of the World Poetry Slam in 2011 and 2013, and in the Individual World Poetry Slam in 2011. She has shared the stage with other artists including the late Gil Scott Heron, Nikki Giovanni, and Talib Kweli. Her book of poems “Thirteen Descansos” was published in 2015 and is available online.

To hear more from Smith and listen to her poetry and songs go online to


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