American River College’s speaker series hosts influential poet


Award winning poet Patricia Smith reads her latest work with American River College students and faculty during a reading event for her poetry in Raef Hall 160 at the ARC campus on Feb 9, 2016. (Photograph by Timon Barkley)

Allante Morris

American River College hosted their latest speaker series event on Feb. 9, featuring Patricia Smith, author of six critically-acclaimed volumes of poetry.

Smith came off as funny and lighthearted, cracking a joke before she started her reading.

She began with her new book, which focuses on police brutality amongst black men from a mother’s point of view.

“Do you listen to the voices that you aren’t hearing, I am the anguished, the weep that you fold, the paragraph you skip,” Smith read to the audience.

Smith continued reading her book, naming examples of police brutality on black men and reading a description of a mother’s perspective when she had to bury her son.

Smith then read a heartbreaking piece about a woman scrubbing her daughter’s skin with lysol.

In the poem Smith said “can I use this to scrub the uncontrollable black from the surface of my daughter, to make her less Negro and somehow less embarrassing to me?”

This line resonated with ARC student Veronica Evans.

Evans said “I felt as if the poem about lysol hit home for me, seeing as I grew up as a dark skinned black girl.”

Smith considers herself to be a storyteller, rather than just a poet.

Smith said “I would not be doing this if I did not believe it changed anything or made a difference.”

Poetry major Vincent Blake shared his thoughts about Smith’s poetry.

Blake said, “I could picture the dim light and the mother’s cry when burying her son and I think Smith’s work is extraordinary and versatile. She’s also very good at conveying imagery.”

 The ARC speaker series is a collaboration with many inspiring speakers, who all leave an impact on those who experience their work.