Artist CV & Biography
Stephen James Smith is a Dublin poet and playwright central to the rise of the vibrant spoken word scene in Ireland today. To date, his poetry videos have amassed over 3 million views online.
In 2017 he was commissioned by St. Patrick’s Festival to write a new poem as a “celebratory narrative” of Ireland. The resultant piece ‘My Ireland’ is accompanied by a short film by Director Myles O’Reilly, arranged and mixed by Conor O’Brien (Villagers), with music by Colm Mac Con Iomaire, Loah, Saint Sister, Eithne Ní Chatháin (aka Inni-K) and Ye Vagabonds. It has been viewed over 300,000 times online and was screened at London Film Festival in Trafalgar Square on March 17th. The poem was in many ways a follow on from Smith’s previous poetry video Dublin You Are, which itself clocked up in excess of 250k views.
Stephen has performed his poetry at high profile events and festivals around the world and in 2012 he was invited to perform for the Irish Olympic team in London. In October 2018 Stephen appeared on a special edition of The Late Late Show (RTE Television) live from London, where he recited his poem This Community to a TV audience of 1.1 million. Stephen has featured in several documentaries for television such as RTÉ’s IFTA Award Winning documentary WB Yeats: No Country for Old Men. He has received numerous poetry video commissions from Listowel Writer’s Week, Creative Ireland and the London Irish Centre to name but a few.
Stephen has been conducting poetry workshops in secondary schools and community groups across Ireland for a number of years. In 2018 he worked as Artist in Residence with Dunamaise Arts Centre and Laois Arts Office, where he developed the first ever Laois Spoken Word Projectfor young people in the county. In Jan – March 2019 Stephen facilitated ‘The Words That Bind Us’ cross-cultural poetry project for St. Patrick’s Festival and the Scottish Government, working with students from Trinity Comprehensive in Ballymun to develop and stage a show and exhibition in Axis Ballymun.
Stephen’s debut collection Fear Notpublished by Arlen House, was released in September 2018 and he has recently released a poetry pamphlet Hear Now. His poetry is included on the syllabus at Western Connecticut State University and his work has been translated into Irish, Spanish, Slovenian, Polish, Dutch and Italian.
Awards & Qualifications
· BA (Hons) in English Media & Cultural Studies | IADT
· Poetry Day Ambasador 2018 | Poetry Ireland
· Runner-up, Dublin Fringe Festival ‘Little Gem’ Award 2011, for Three Men Talking About Things They Kinda Know About, co-written with Colm Keegan and Kalle Ryan
· Winner, Cúirt Literary Festival Poetry Grand Slam 2009
· Winner, Literary Death Match Dublin Ep.4 2011
· Winner, Writing4all Slam Final 2010
· Runner up, All Ireland Slam Final 2008 (Limerick)
· Runner up, BBC Radio 4 Irish Slam Final 2007 (Belfast)
Projects and Residencies
· Artist in Residence, Laois County Council & Dunmaise Arts Centre 2018
· Lead facilitator ‘The Words That Bind Us’, Irish-Scottish poetry project for St. Patrick’s Festival 2019
· Lead artist on The National Neighbourhood, Dublin’s Culture Connects. Creative project with Labre Park, culminating in a performance at the National Concert Hall (2017)
· Co-founder of LINGO Festival (inaugural festival in 2014), Ireland’s only spoken word festival
· Poetry curator of the annual First Fortnight Festival, Dublin
· Regular poetry workshop facilitator with Fighting Words
· Co-curator and co-producer of poetry videos series for Dublin UNESCO City of Literature
· Regular creative writing facilitator with JCSP, Transition Year and in youth work and community settings
· We Must Create - poem and poetry video for Creative Ireland
· Iomramh – poem and poetry video for Listwoel Writer’s Week
· This Community andDead Man’s Shirt- poem and poetry videos for London Irish Centre
· My Ireland - poem and poetry video for St Patrick’s Festival
· Dublin You Are - poem and poetry video for Dublin City Council
· It’s That Time Again –poem and poetry video for RTE Online, Christmas campaign
· Currently working on commissions for Focus Ireland and Science Foundation Ireland
Festivals & Notable Appearances
· The Noble Call, Abbey Theatre, Jan 2014. Other guests have included Panti Bliss, Theo Dorgan , Olivia O’Leary, Rita Fagan, Paula Meehan and musician Paul Brady
· Imagining Home: This is Ireland- National Concert Hall, April 2016 (alongside Glen Hansard, Joseph O’Connor, Roddy Doyle and more)
· The People Speak, Mansion House Dublin (alongside Stephen Rae, Colm Meaney, Tommy Tiernan, John Connors, Paul Brady and more)
· Vicar Street, Dublin, Dec 2015 (guest slot for both Glen Hansard & Colm Mc Con Ionmaire)
· Nuyorican Poets Café, New York
· Cultural Centre Irlandais, Paris
· Cuirt International Literary Festival
· Listowel Writer’s Week
· International Literature Festival Dublin
· Glastonbury Festival
· London Palladium (with Glen Hansard)
Passionate, witty, just plain great; this man’s voice hops right off the page.
Here are poems fuelled by the raw urgency of language leaping to meet the world — and here, too, are poems of a tender heart, always willing to reach out, to try to understand. Stephen James Smith is a poet of uncommon energy, utterly alive to the here and now.
New Irish Poetry Urgently Needed… Stephen James Smith answers the call!
Stephen James Smith is a poet whose sympathies lie with “the addicted and the convicted”, often responding to what he finds on life’s margins. His sharp-edged forceful language derives from his gifts as a performance poet and his fearlessness in looking into the eye of his subject matter. His poems get their charge, as well as their shape and substance, from his use of demotic rhythms, the vividness of his vernacular and his emotional directness – in the midst of the toughness of his work, he also knows where to find the tender spot.
Stephen James Smith is a writer gifted with empathy, passion and the rare mastery required to transmute emotion into art. I've seen him recite his poetry on a suburban Chicago street to a rapt audience of cops and homeless people for the sheer joy of sharing words. His poems are crafted with care, with great skill, and most importantly, with love.
Feedback on Poetry Workshops
Stephen took a large group—about fifty students—for the whole day and it was extremely successful. Feedback from the girls included comments such as “I never knew poetry could be so interesting” and “It was the best activity we’ve done in TY so far!” I will definitely be booking Stephen’s workshop again!
MARY NEWMAN, ENGLISH TEACHER, ST. LOUIS HIGH SCHOOL, RATHMINES.
Stephen James Smith visited 3 of our libraries during Children’s Book Festival 2010. The feedback from both teachers and students was extremely positive. Stephen’s easy style, enthusiasm and encouragement meant that the students were fully engaged and involved in the workshop. All of the librarians were very impressed with Stephen and would love to welcome him back for another visit. We would definitely recommend him for a poetry workshop with teenagers either in a library or school.”
CAROLINE HIGGINS, SENIOR LIBRARIAN, SOUTH DUBLIN COUNTY LIBRARIES
Stephen had a lovely relaxed approach to working with the group and was able to put them at ease whilst still managing to encourage them and bring out the best of what they can do.
DARA MACGABHANN, ‘HANDS TOGETHER’ PROJECT MONAGHAN COMMUNITY FORUM
Video & Audio Links
Youtube channel: youtube.com/StephenJamesSmith
Live performance of ‘Dublin You Are’ at Other Voices https://youtu.be/UNQcwcb1saU
· Dr. Paula Gilligan, Head of Department, Humanities. IADT. Kill Ave, Dún Loaghaire. Tel: 01 239 4749
· Michelle de Forge, Dunamaise Arts Centre. Email email@example.com