Damont Combs is 2018 Poet of the Year, author of two poetry books: my poem…my riddle and A Touch Of Orange. We asked him a few questions about his life and art-making in Rhode Island for our series, Rhode Island Cultural Anchors.
RISCA: Why do you make Rhode Island your home, and how did you end up here?
DC: I came here to go to Johnson and Wales to pursue a degree in computer technology. I graduated and settled down with my family. I made RI my home because it grew on me. It’s the best place for the arts to thrive.
RISCA: Why do you do what you do? What inspires you, drives you, to create or enable the creation of art?
DC: Poets are the mouthpiece of society. I say what others say in the back of their minds. I say it more poetically. I use words as more than a way of expression; it is my way of life now. I feed my family with Art, I feed my soul with Poetry. I bring passion back into my city. I stay inspired by my poetry family as well. They push me to continue going and staying relevant and reinventing the wheel.
RISCA: What is one thing you think the art community in Rhode Island needs?
DC: I think it needs more open mics. There use to be over 13 open mics you could go to within a couple of miles from each other within any given week. A lot of them shut down due to the host businesses going under. Open mics are vital to growth for our artists, they bring tourism and bring businesses money if done properly.
RISCA: What is the biggest challenge for you in your art life?
DC: I want to standardize “paying your artist.” There’s nothing worse than putting in 20 years into your passion and still being told they aren’t paying you because it’s standard not to. I’ve put in a lot of time and effort into poetry. I’ve decided to do this full time, but the biggest challenge I face is organizations and venues not wanting to pay me. They say exposure or they are non-profit but my argument is the gas/light/rent/cable and plumbing is all paid. Why should paying your artist be any different? A service is being provided; pay for that service.