The poet I've selected for this week was a local Kansas City area poet. He would have been 60 this month had he not taken his life at age 36.
He grew up on Kansas City's east side during the 1960's civil rights movement. His poetry resonates the struggles of black urban America in those times and to some extent is very relevant today.
Initially he was self-taught but he eventually became the first person to receive a double major in English and Creative Writing in the Master's program at UMKC.
In the 1970's Smith took the name Mbembe, Swahili for "smooth-tongued one."
Mbembe was more of a locally known poet, though he did move to New York and was in Chicago at the time of his death. He did publish a couple of books. He also went on to teach. His work left a major impact upon a number of people. Had he lived longer and had greater exposure, he quite possibly would have achieved more national recognition.
There was a lot of goomaterialal presented on our local NPR affiliate station KCUR and I am simply going to link to it.
You can hear the segment by Sylvia Marie Gross with Mbembe reading as well as interviews and other material on him. [ click here ]
Tags: Mbembe Milton Smith NPR KCUR Wednesday Poet Series