charles c. smith

charlescsmithcharles c. smith is a poet, playwright and essayist who has written and edited twelve books. He studied poetry and drama with William Packard, editor of the New York Quarterly Magazine, at New York University and Herbert Berghof Studios. He also studied drama at the Frank Silvera’s Writers’ Workshop in Harlem. He won second prize for his play Last Days for the Desperate from Black Theatre Canada, has edited three collections of poetry (including the works of Dionne Brand, Marlene Nourbese Phillips, Claire Harris, Cyril Dabydeen, Lillian Allen, George Elliot Clarke, Clifton Joseph), has four published books of poetry and his poetry has appeared in numerous journals and magazines, including Poetry Canada Review, the Quille and Quire, Descant, Dandelion, Fiddlehead, Anti-Racism in Education: Missing in Action (Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives), the Amethyst Review, Bywords, Canadian Ethnic Studies and others. charles was the founder of the Black Perspectives Cultural Program in Regent Park and recently received a grant from the Ontario Arts Council’s Writers Reserve Grants Program and the Toronto Arts Council Writers Grants Program.

charles has published articles with Stanford Law and Policy, University of Toronto Press, Alberta Law Review, Captus Press and his writings on racial profiling and Black lives in Canada have been published by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. His research has been commissioned by several institutions including the African Canadian Community Coalition on Racial Profiling, the Court Challenges Program of Canada, the Chief Justice of Ontario (former) Task Force on Professional Responsibility, the Ontario Ministries of the Attorney General and Community Safety ‘Community Task Force on Hate Crimes’, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, and the Canada Council for the Arts.

His first book, Partial Lives, appeared through Williams-Wallace Press and a chap book, Fleurette Africaine (wind in the leaves collective), was released in February 2012. charles is currently the Executive Director for Cultural Pluralism in the Arts Movement Ontario and Artistic Director of the wind in the leaves collective.

His book, Pluralism in the Arts in Canada: A Change is Gonna Come, was released in June 2012. This book contains essays and articles by: award-winning poet George Elliot Clarke, dancers and choreographers Charmaine Headley (Collective of Black Artists), Kevin A. Ormsby (Kashedance), Amanda Paixao (doctoral candidate in dance at York University and Natasha Bakht who also teaches human rights law at the University of Ottawa; theatre and movement artists Amanda Paixao and Shahin Sayadi. This book also features toolkits on community engaged arts prepared by the Neighbourhood Arts Network, the Independent Media Arts Alliance and National Indigenous Media Arts Coalition, and, the Cultural Pluralism in the Arts Movement Ontario. His new book of poetry, travelogue of the bereaved, was published in 2014 by TSAR Publications (now Mawenzi Press) and his latest non-fiction book The Dirty War: The Making of the Myth of Black Dangerousness was released in 2014 by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

charles is the Executive Director or Cultural Pluralism in the Arts Movement Ontario and Artistic Director of the wind in the leaves collective, an interdisciplinary performance group combining his poetry with music, dance and visual arts which he founded in 2009. He also lectures at the Humber College post-graduate program in arts administration and was formerly the Lecturer, Cultural Pluralism in the Arts at the University of Toronto Scarborough. 

His new book of poetry entitled travelogue of the bereaved (TSAR Publications) was released in October 2014 along with his book of non-fiction The Dirty War: The Making of the Myth of Black Dangerousness (Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives).  His chap book whispers was released in August 2014 at an interdisciplinary exhibit and performance at the Blink Gallery in Ottawa. 

Pluralism in the Arts in Canada: A Change is Gonna Come, was released in June 2012.  This book contains essays and articles by: award-winning poet George Elliot Clarke, dancers and choreographers Charmaine Headley (Collective of Black Artists), Kevin A. Ormsby (Kashedance), Amanda Paixao (doctoral candidate in dance at York University and Natasha Bakht an Ottawa-based dancer/choreographer and law professor at the University of Ottawa; theatre and movement artists Amanda Paixao and Shahin Sayadi.  This book also features toolkits on community engaged arts prepared by the Neighbourhood Arts Network, the Independent Media Arts Alliance and National Indigenous Media Arts Coalition, and, the Cultural Pluralism in the Arts Movement Ontario.

charles’ first book of poetry, Partial Lives, appeared through Williams-Wallace Press. A chap book,Fleurette Africaine (wind in the leaves collective), was released in February 2012.  His poetry has appeared in Fiddlehead, Prairie Fire, Descant, Dandelion, Amethyst Review, By-Words, Canadian Forum, Quille and Quire, Fiery Spirits (Harper Collins),Poetry Toronto, Canadian Ethnic Studies, Acta Victoriana, Revival Journal (Ireland), Prairie Fire, Anti-Racism in Education: Missing in Action, the Great Black North (edited by Valerie Mason John and Kevan Anthony Cameron, Frontenac House) and Men In the Company of Women (Lenore Publishing House, San Francisco) . He has edited three collections of poetry – Teeth of the Whirlwind (Black Perspectives), Bantu (Black Perspectives)and, Sad Dances in a Field of White (Is Five Press) that includes the works of Dionne Brand, Marlene Nourbese Phillips, Claire Harris, Cyril Dabydeen, Lillian Allen, George Elliot Clarke, Clifton Joseph. charles was the founder of the Black Perspectives Cultural Program in Regent Park and recently received a grant from the Ontario Arts Council’s Writers Reserve Grants Program and the Toronto Arts Council Writers Grants Program (2012 and 2014).

charles has provided advice to numerous cultural organizations interested in developing and implementing equity and diversity policies and programs, including the Ontario Science Centre, the SONY Centre for Performing Arts, the Toronto Theatre Alliance, the Caribbean Cultural Committee, the Toronto International Film Festival, Community Cultural Impresarios/Ontario’s Presenter Network, Canadian Dance Assembly, Flato Markham Theatre, the Artist Run Centres and Collectives of Ontario, the Ontario Association of Art Galleries, Etobicoke and Lakeshore Arts. He has also made presentations on pluralism in performing arts to Soulpepper Theatre, PAONE (Professional Arts Organization Network for Education), the Royal Conservatory Artist Educator Professional Training Program, CARFAC National, the Aga Khan Foundation as well as Creative Trust and National Historical Sites Alliance of Ontario, and Concordia University’s ‘Ethnocultural Art History Research Annual Symposium.

In his recent work at U. of T. Scarborough, charles initiated a series of forums entitled Culture, Identity and Representation, and, Writing Home: Blood Memory.  These were new initiatives supported by the Dean’s office under the auspices of the Snider Lecture Series.

In addition to the above, charles:

  • is a Research Associate with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • won second prize for his play Last Days for the Desperatefrom Black Theatre Canada
  • is on the steering committee for the Canadian Arts Coalition and the National Arts Services working group
  • leads the Cultural Pluralism in the Arts Movement Ontario (CPAMO) since 2009 and in this role has organized several forums involving Aboriginal and racialized artists as performers and panelists addressing issues of pluralism in the arts.  Some of these artists include: Lee Pui Ming, Olga Barrios, Kevin A. Ormsby, Sampradaya Dance Creations; Kaha:wi Dance, Sandra Laronde (Red Sky Performance; Shahin Sayadi (One Light Theatre); Majdi Bou Matar (MT Space); George Elliot Clarke; Sara Diamond (OCAD) and many others;
  • was a Community Fellow at the 2014 Canadian Arts Summit in Banff
  • has served on juries for the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts
  • organizes a lecture series and programs at the University of Toronto Scarborough.  Some of these lectures have been provided by Andrea Fatona (OCAD); Scott Miller Berry (Images Film Festival); Deanna Bowen (Video Artist); Gina Badger (Fuse Magazine); Ravi Jain (why not theatre); Nina Lee Aquino (Cahoots Theatre) and many others;
  • has been a panelist on both the IMPACT Theatre, Performance Festival (2009) and Prismatic Festival (2010), CARFAC National (2012) and Canadian Dance Assembly (2012)
  • has received grants for his writing from the Toronto Arts Council, the Ontario Arts Council, the Toronto Dominion Bank’s Then and Now Program, Unifor Canada and the Ontario Secondary Schools Teachers Federation
  • the wind in the leaves collective has performed at Lab Cab at Factory Theatre, the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus, Diasporic Dialogues’ Friday Night Series, soundspoetic at ArrayMusic, Dancemakers, Ontario Contact, the Arts and Letters Club and two of the collective’s pieces were showcased at the 2011 IMPACT Festival of Performance and Theatre Arts in Kitchener.
  • studied poetry with Armand Schwerner (City University New York) and poetry and drama with William Packard, editor of the New York Quarterly Magazine, at New York University and Herbert Berghof Studios. He also studied drama at the Frank Silvera’s Writers’ Workshop in Harlem.
  • written and edited several non-fiction essays and books which have appeared in U. of T. Press, Alberta Law Review, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, Canadian Scholars Press and Captus Press Inc. His book on racial profiling, Conflict, Crisis and Accountability: Law Enforcement and Racial Profiling in Canadawas released in October 2007 by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • authored several papers for the Canadian Bar Association: Ten Years Into the Future: Where Are We Now After Touchstones for Equality?; Concerns on Increasing Tuition Fees at the University of Toronto; Response to the Provost Study of Accessibility and Career Choice in the University of Toronto Faculty of Law; and Comments on Methodologies To Study Accessibility to Law Schools.  The latter piece has now been published with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives in Missing Pieces V(2004).  He also guided the Canadian Bar Association in its production of Take Action on Equity and Diversity, a resource guide and toolkit for law firms which is accompanied by an educational DVD on preventing harassment and discrimination
  • presented a paper for the Chief Justice of Ontario’s Fourth Colloquium on Professionalism entitled Who is Afraid of the Social Constructionists? Or Shedding Light on the Unpardonable Whiteness of the Canadian Legal Profession This paper was published by the Alberta Law Review and by Captus Press
  • paper Tuition Fee Increases and the History of Racial Exclusion in Canadian Legal Education has appeared in the fall, 2004 Canadian Diversity (Vol. 3:3)
  • has a book with Sumach Press entitled Feminism, Law, Inclusion: Intersectionality in Action edited with Gayle MacDonald and Rachel Osborne
  • has contributed a chapter (Racial Profiling Then and Now) to a book on racial profiling compiled and authored by Carol Tator and Frances Henry (Racial Profiling in Canada).  
  • has contributed a chapter to a book Interrogating Race and Racism edited by Vijay Agnew for U. of T. Press and
  • was commissioned by the Ontario Hate Crimes Community Working Group to prepare a report for its consideration in 2006.  His report is entitled Hate Crime Victimization and Links Between Hate Bias, Violence and Racism.
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