We had the good fortune of connecting with Suzi Q. Smith and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Suzi Q., why did you pursue a creative career?
I’ve been writing poetry for as long as I could write anything, and sharing my poems out loud with friends and strangers since I was a teenager. Professionally, I started out working for a non-profit civil rights organization. During this time, I was still writing and performing poems in cafes all over Denver. Then, I spent about a decade working in the corporate world. I was still writing and performing poems, hosting open mics, building writing communities, and beginning to tour outside of Denver. As my career as a writer & performing artist grew, my capacity for the corporate career diminished. I was afraid to leave the security of my day job, especially as a single mom, but the two paths were no longer compatible. Eventually, I was left with only one path open to me, and that was the path of the artist.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I write poetry – mostly. I have also written a couple of plays, some creative nonfiction, and songs. When I’m not writing, I am singing or making clothes and/or delicious meals. I am a maker of things. I am not sure what sets me apart from others, only that I feel things too deeply and abundantly to contain them inside my body and they must go somewhere. As for how my career has developed, it’s been a combination of luck, providence, hard work, and endurance. I am very excited about my new books coming out this year, A Gospel of Bones, and Poems for the End of the World. Their journey into print was slower than I wanted it to be initially, but I’m so thrilled that both collections have found homes and will soon be making their way to bookshelves.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Typically, I would take friends to my favorite coffee shops and venues for poetry – Mercury Cafe, Whittier Cafe, Gypsy House Cafe, all places where poets are likely to be found hanging out, writing, talking, sharing poems. We would also take drives into the mountains, spend some time at Red Rocks, and do some gentle hiking/exploring.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
It’s important to me to shoutout Ashara Ekundayo and the Pan African Arts Society. Through her careful curation of Cafe Nuba, the Pan African Film Festival, and so many more programs and projects for over 10 years in Denver, I had a thriving community to grow and build in. While she is now living in Oakland, CA, her impact on Denver’s arts & culture community is a legacy that will continue for generations.