Kane Smego

Kane Smego – Spoken Word Poet, Hip Hop Artist & Cultural Diplomat

Spoken Word – Conflict Resolution – Community Engagement – Self-Expression


Kane Smego is an international touring spoken word poet and hip hop artist, cultural diplomat, National Poetry Slam finalist, , and the co-founder and former Artistic Director of the award-winning youth arts nonprofit, Sacrificial Poets, based in the Triangle area of North Carolina. He has performed and realized programs all across the U.S. and abroad in Europe, Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Central America, as well as instructed a college course on Spoken Word and Oral History at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. In the summer of 2011, Kane helped create and lead the Poetic Portraits of a Revolution (PPR2011) project that traveled to Egypt and Tunisia to collect stories of the popular revolutions, and adapted them to spoken word poems that were broadcasted in an eight-week radio series on the National Public Radio affiliate WUNC. Kane is currently part of Next Level, a Hip Hop cultural diplomacy and education project headed by the U.S. State Department and UNC Chapel Hill which sent him along with a team of artists to run a  program in Zimbabwe in 2015. Kane has toured with the legendary Black Ice from Def Poetry Jam, Award-winning poet Patricia Smith, and has featured on the King Mez debut album, My Everlasting Zeal, alongside such accomplished artists as Lupe Fiasco’s producer, Soundtrakk, and Grammy Award-nominee J. Cole. He was a presenter at the Shriver Report Live hosted by Atlantic Magazine, the keynote speaker for the Global Youth Leaders Conference in Washington, D.C. and has given lectures and workshops on leadership, education, arts and social justice, and community engagement at various conferences and universities. Kane is the primary author of the YouTh ink. Curriculum that uses poetry and Hip Hop to help youth and adults tell their own stories, and challenges them to transform themselves and their communities through the use of the spoken and written word.


Kane’s performances are individualized, depending on the theme and context of the event. They can range from serious issues to light humor and cover topics from social commentary to introspection.

Education – Writing and Performance Workshops:

Through the use of the spoken and written word, the YouTh ink. curriculum helps participants “find their voice” through a focus on exploring identity, understanding the historical context and power of the oral tradition, and using poetry as a tool for therapy and healing, community engagement, conflict resolution, and non-violent resistance.


In Praise of Our X Chromosomes (performance/presentation)

In this dynamic presentation Kane weaves performance poetry and storytelling to chronicle his experience growing up in a single mother household, and his journey towards becoming an ally against misogyny and homophobia. His poems and anecdotes explore the ways in which young men are socialized to exercise male privilege and reinforce heterosexism, and challenge them to redefine masculinity by confronting patriarchy in their daily conversations, in their communities, and within themselves.

Imaginary Borders: This dynamic performance and lecture takes an in-depth look at the history of immigration in the United States and examines the human impact of past and current policies. As a non-Latino Spanish speaker, Kane explores his role as ally in the fight for immigrant rights, and challenges students to think critically about the issues of citizenship and migration, as well as what it means to be a member of a global community. From the Chinese Exclusion Act to the Bracero Program to current immigration policies like Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, this program offers a multifaceted perspective that seeks to broaden the discussion on this important issue.

Poetry is Our Weapon: This performance and lecture explores the ways in which youth around the world are using spoken word poetry as a tool for self-empowerment, for promoting diversity, and for facilitating community building and engagement. His poems and anecdotes celebrate the vibrant legacies of oral history, and take students through his odyssey as co-founder of an arts and education nonprofit aimed at transforming communities at home and abroad.

The Art of Personal Stories: Humanizing the News, Journalism, and History:
This performance and lecture explores the legacy of the oral tradition and its role in the transmission and preservation of history and knowledge, the celebration of diversity, and the creation of counter-narratives to mainstream media. He recounts his journey as co-creator of the Poetic Portraits of a Revolution (PPR2011) project, which sent him and a group of artists to Egypt and Tunisia for two months in 2011 to document the popular revolutions through poetry, radio, and videography.

“Finding Your Voice in Leadership”: This performance and lecture discusses the role that our identity, experiences, and stories play in developing leadership, building collaborative relationships, and designing creative ways to engage our communities. Kane recounts his own experience as a co-founder and Artistic Director of a youth arts and education nonprofit.

Who I Really Am: Spoken Word and Constructing Identity: This performance and lecture examines spoken word poetry and storytelling as tools for expressing and constructing identity, celebrating diversity, and building relationships across lines of difference. As a young person whose own life was changed through his introduction to the art form, Kane discusses the ways in which his work as a youth educator and nonprofit director gives young people the tools to discover and express who they are and who they wish to be.

“Metaphor and Medicine: Poetry as Therapy and Introspective Healing”:
This performance and lecture examines creative writing and performance as tools for exploring and transforming oneself. Kane shares his experiences working for over the last decade with youth and adults from diverse backgrounds, and their inspiring metamorphoses through the arts.


Kane’s workshop utilize his unique YouTh ink. Curriculum and are designed to lead participants in exploring their identities and life experiences, and in utilizing literary devices to communicate their stories through powerful works of spoken word poetry. Workshops can be customized depending on the experience level or age-group involved, as well as tailored to touch on certain themes or topics of a course or event.

Standard workshops are designed to be accessible to beginner and experienced writers alike. Participants with no experience at all will be taken through a writing process and come out of a workshop with their own original piece of spoken word poetry.

For groups made up entirely of veteran poets and slammers, workshops with more advanced writing prompts and techniques are available, as well as activities to improve their performance and public speaking abilities.

Writing a New MANifesto

In this workshop for men, Kane leads participants in writing activities and interactive exercises that help them explore how our experiences with heterosexism, misogyny and homophobia contribute to unhealthy forms of masculinity. Groups examine masculinity as a cultural construct and discuss the ways in which their own masculinities are influenced by language, media, and social pressures that oppress women and deprive men of their humanity. Through written reflections and sharing, participants are challenged to redefine their own concept of masculinity and to explore ways that they can support other men in MANifesting healthier gender identities.

Participants will:

  • Use poetry to explore life experiences and gender politics while building networks of solidarity and mutual support with other men
  • Engage in interactive exercises that challenge them to consider how their own language and actions serve to reinforce or redefine gender norms
  • Discuss the roles that emotional expression, compassion, and vulnerability play in building healthy masculinities


“Kane Smego is truly a poetry mastermind. Not only is he gifted with words but has a way with students! Our students, flock to him and clear their schedules when they hear he is performing. St. Joseph’s College has hosted Kane numerous times and will continue to bring him back.”
Magie Hassanin
Assistant to the Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students & Multicultural Student Life
Saint Joseph’s College

“Kane Smego was an exceptional presenter and a highlight of the NASW 2014 National Conference! He was inspiring, powerful, thought-provoking, and passionate, all at the same time.  As the opening presenter, he very effectively set an excellent tone for the entire event that followed.”
Richard E. Loomis
Manager, Conference and Event Planning
National Association of Social Workers

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