CSULA Department of English | Events

Read Rommi Smith's recap of her experience at Cal State LA.

Rommi Smith will be the British Council USA UK Writer-in-Residence at CSULA from February 20, 2006 through March 17, 2006.  A spellbinding, dynamic and powerful performer, Rommi works with her band to create a synthesis of lyrical spoken and sung word. A complete schedule of events, including readings and workshops is listed to the left.

For more information on Rommi, please visit her website www.rommi-smith.co.uk and her BBC website www.bbc.co.uk/myafrica.

Image of Rommi Smith

photo credit: Kevin Reynolds

Rommi Smith is a poet and playwright, who works to fuse spoken word and music together. She has been performing her work since the age of 14. A spellbinding, dynamic and powerful performer, Rommi works in collaboration with dancers, music producers, musicians and with her own band, to create a synthesis of lyrical spoken and sung word.

Performing her work regularly, both nationally and internationally, at arts, music and literature festivals (Glastonbury; Ilkley; Sight Sonic; Crossing Borders (Amsterdam); Nuyorican Poet’s Café and Bar 13 (New York); Multi Culture (Paris)), Rommi has achieved a reputation for sharp, socially conscious poetic imagery, fused with astute harmonies, and jazz, funk and soul rhythms.

Rommi’s work has been broadcast on various media: BBC Radio 5 Live’s Late Night Currie and The Richard Dallin Show; BBC Radio 3’s The Verb; Woman’s Hour, Fine Lines, Poetry Please and Late Night Lines from the Lowry (as part of Radio 4’s Poetry Festival). Print and audio versions of Rommi’s work are featured on the BBC website. In 1999, Rommi was chair of the first ever people’s jury for the Booker Prize.

In 2001, Rommi was invited to take up the post of Poet in Residence for BBC Music Live, the first post of its kind in the history of the festival. In 2002, Rommi was BBC Artist in Residence for the Commonwealth Games 2002, writing for broadcast on BBC World Service, Radio 4, Radio 5, BBC2002 Commonwealth Games Radio and BBC Television. In 2002, Rommi and her band were commissioned to create new work for the opening programme of the new series of Radio 3’s The Verb.

As an actor, Rommi has performed in Eve Ensler’s, The Vagina Monologues.

As a playwright Rommi has been commissioned by Paines Plough Theatre Company and BBC Radio Drama. Her play, Angie Baby toured nationally throughout 2000 and was performed at venues including West Yorkshire Playhouse and the Bristol Young Vic. In July 2001, Angie Baby was developed for production at the Young Vic, London. In 2002, Rommi’s play, Take A Pinch Of was the afternoon drama on BBC Radio 4, featuring soul diva Ruby Turner. In 2005, Rommi was commissioned to write and perform a new play as part of Flight 5065, an evening of live performances on the London Eye to raise awareness of Africa, Fairtrade and Debt Relief.

Rommi’s collection of poetry and CD, both entitled Moveable Type (Route) were published to much acclaim. She was one of ten writers recently given a national commission to write in response to Infallible: In Search of the Real George Eliot, a national touring exhibition exploring fiction in art. Rommi’s piece can be found in the book of the same name, which accompanies the exhibition www.infallible.org.uk

Rommi has received an Arts’ Council Writer’s Bursary to develop her forthcoming collection, Mornings and Midnights, which is inspired by the lives of divas. A limited edition chapbook of a selection of these poems was published in November 2005 and the full collection will be published by Peepal Tree Press in June 2006.

Rommi was recently appointed Writer in residence for the BBC Radio 3 Africa Season and is exploring her Nigerian and English heritage, as well as the stories of people of African heritage based in the UK, through the residency. Her work is currently being broadcast on programmes such as Twenty Minutes, The Verb and Late Junction. She also writes a regular weblog on the BBC site. Visit www.bbc.co.uk/myafrica for more information.

Rommi is delighted and honoured to be British Council Writer in residence at CSULA in 2006. 

For more information, call the Cal State L.A. English Department at (323) 343-4140.

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