Last week on Thursday afternoon YSS held its membership meeting where attendees welcomed their new board and were able to meet powerful poet and photographer Charles R. Smith Jr. Winner of the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award for his book My People, he shared his experiences in growing up and how it led to him becoming a writer. He shared that as a child he wanted to become an astronaut. When he went to the library at his school he told the librarian his dream of one day going into space. She handed him a book about Guy Bluford who was the first African American to ever go to space. He said that seeing someone like him taking off into the stars made him realize he could do anything. Although he never made it out of our atmosphere he did join the yearbook committee.
While this wasn't what his eighth grade self had in mind it did lead to his passion. Here he had to not only write, but take photos. He had a new dream and has been perusing it ever since. When he moved to New York from Los Angeles he wanted to become a photographer for book covers, but was given the chance to write! Not only does he write poetry and prose, but he has recently completed an opera called Bounce: An Opera in 4 Quarters. Smith finished writing the piece so quickly he is actually a year ahead of schedule! The thing that was most exciting was this wasn't a dry PowerPoint presentation of his past works. The audience was able to have the experience of Smith reciting his poetry and giving life to the words that we had only once read on a page. This incredible talent of rhythm and rhymes made this an exceptional visit.
To hear Charles R. Smith Jr. reciting his poetry click here.