Watch: Poet Clint Smith on activism, stereotypes and disenfranchisement in the black community

African-American poet Clint Smith talks to Salon about poetry, politics and black life in the era of Donald Trump

By D. Watkins

Editor at Large

Published November 13, 2016 12:30AM (EST)

I met with writer and teacher Clint Smith during his visit to Baltimore a few weeks before the election to talk about his new book of poetry, "Counting Descent."

It's a passionate collection of personal poems in a first-person mode that covers a wide range of topics, from activism and love to the black experience in America -- and Clint’s killer jump shot. The book offers a unique twirl of hope, humor, knowledge and darkness – in a language that can excite hardcore poetry lovers while engaging students and first-time poetry readers. As Michelle Alexander, author of "The New Jim Crow," wrote, "So many of these poems just blow me away. Incredibly beautiful and powerful.”

Salon caught up with Smith after his Baltimore lecture to talk about the inspiration behind his work, who he’s trying to reach and the toxic idea of one black voice having the luxury to represent millions of black people.

By D. Watkins

D. Watkins is an Editor at Large for Salon. He is also a writer on the HBO limited series "We Own This City" and a professor at the University of Baltimore. Watkins is the author of the award-winning, New York Times best-selling memoirs “The Beast Side: Living  (and Dying) While Black in America”, "The Cook Up: A Crack Rock Memoir," "Where Tomorrows Aren't Promised: A Memoir of Survival and Hope" as well as "We Speak For Ourselves: How Woke Culture Prohibits Progress." His new books, "Black Boy Smile: A Memoir in Moments," and "The Wire: A Complete Visual History" are out now.

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African Americans African-americans Clint Smith Original Video Poetry