Kansas City poet Mbembe Milton Smith would have been 60 years old this month. He had written four books of poetry before he took his life at the age of 36. Two of Smith's early books were published by UMKC's Bkmk Press, which is re-releasing a copy of his Selected Poems in honor of his birthday.
Kansas City, MO – The poet Gwendolyn Brooks wrote, "Mbembe was?is?one of our most nourishing poets. He used language deftly?with a lively, affectionate respect. We regret his departure. But his legacy will continue to warm literature."
Here, Mbembe Milton Smith reads three of his epigrammatic, mood poems. UMKC's literary magazine New Letters was one of a number of national magazines and anthologies which published Smith's work and he was interviewed on the radio show New Letters on the Air after he published a book in 1978 - that's where these recordings came from. At the time of the interview, Smith had recently moved to New York City, where he was a counselor and later taught writing.
UMKC's Bookmark Press and the literary magazine New Letters will be celebrating Mbembe Milton Smith's legacy with members of his family, local writers, community leaders and others who knew him on Tuesday, November 28 in the Blue Room at the American Jazz Museum.