Born and raised on the impoverished West Side of Patricia Chicago, Smith is a nationally known performance poet who has won a number of poetry slam contests. A former reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times, she was also a columnist for the Boston Globe for a number of years. She has also taught at Georgia Tech University, the University of Southern Maine, and Cave Canem, the latter a Brooklyn –based writing center with a focus on African American writers. A nonfiction book Africans in America (1998), coauthored with Charles Johnson, accompanies a PBS television documentary on slavery. Blood Dazzler (2008) is her book-length poem sequence on Hurricane Katrina.
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