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Dorothea Smartt

Inscribe co-director

Dorothea Smartt co-ordinates Inscribe's activities, including its masterclass programme, and supports Inscribe writers through one to one coaching and mentoring. She uses her skills, power, and creativity, as a poet, live artist and facilitator to empower and effect positive social change, personal growth and self-expression.

Dorothea Smartt, is of Barbadian (aka Bajan) heritage. Dubbed 'Brit-born Bajan international' [Kamau Brathwaithe], her work receives critical attention in Britain, Europe, the Caribbean, and the USA. She is acknowledged as tackling multi-layered cultural myths and the real life experiences of Black women with searing honesty. She was Brixton Market’s first Poet-in-Residence, and a former Attached Live Artist at London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts. Her evocative and spirited voice "coils up your feelings, around granite chips of truth... unwinds solace, in the most soothing volleys" [Caribbean Times]. Described as "accessible & dynamic", her work was recently selected to promote the best of contemporary writing in Europe today [www.liffey.net].

Peepal Tree Pres has published two of Dorothea's poetry collections, Connecting Medium and Ship Shape, plus a poetry chapbook of work-in-progess, Reader, I Married him and other queer goings on.

She has been called "...a master artist who sculpts both Standard English and Caribbean English into a wide variety of poetic forms...capable of boldly crossing cultural boundaries in order to borrow from the past as she shapes poems for twenty-first century readers." [Caribbean Writer], and was nominated for a prestigious Civitella Ranieri Foundation Fellowship, and commissioned to create work with and for the historic Project Row Houses, Houston, Texas.

Her “medusaplay project”, an on-going live art work-in-process, premiered at the British Festival of Visual Theatre. Other collaborative works include the live art piece "fo(u)r women"; the installation “Triangle” (a Black Arts Alliance commission) and the multi-media/live art “Hairroots”, inspired by her poetry collection. Her solo work, “Medusa”, was selected to showcase seminal and outstanding examples of Black British Live Art.

In 2000 she was commissioned to write her first script, “fall out”, a multi-media play, which successfully toured primary schools. Most recently she’s produced her first short films, for her installation/performance “Just A Part” commissioned by AFFORD (African Foundation for Development) and “Bringing It All Back Home”, inspired by Sambo’s Grave on Sunderland Point (a Lancaster LitFest commission). 

She is SABLE LitMag’s poetry editor [www.sablelitmag.org], co-editor of “Words from the Women’s Café’ [Centerprise] and, as a former Audre Lorde Womens’ Poetry Center member, guest editor of the journal ‘Poder’. She is a ‘graduate’ of Kwame Dawes’/Spread The Word, Afro-Style School, and a member of the Black Arts Alliance. 

As well as reading and performing around Britain, she often goes abroad, most recently: Canada, Bahrain, Denmark, Egypt, The Netherlands, Jamaica, The Shetland Islands, Slovenia, and the USA. She also enjoys mentoring, going into schools to inspire and motivate as a visiting or resident poet, speaking at conferences, and providing workshops for various communities. Currently she’s researching and processing new live art pieces and working towards a third poetry collection in print, and is embarking on a reading tour of Australia in 2016. 

- Home of the Best in Caribbean & Black British Writing -