By Roadtrip Nation

Tia Smedley



My road in life took a while to figure out.
Grew up in Columbus, Ohio, and later moved to Nashville, Tennessee.
I was a track and field athlete for most of my adolescence and planned the majority of my young life around my athletics.
As I got older, I began to realize I was no longer passionate about sports and had to make a drastic change—I followed my other interests in writing and performing and changed my major to theater.
While still in college, I found out I was pregnant, which made me stand out in my conservative religious community—I withdrew from college and got married so as to not embarrass my family.
I got a job working as a customer care representative at CVS Caremark and had two more children over the following three years.
I continued performing my poetry along with a friend as part of our duo group Gravaty, and was named the 2007 Southern Entertainment Artist of the Year.
Eventually, I got fed up with my 9-to-5 job and the path I was on, so I quit my job and decided to pursue poetry and performing full time.
I’m now a teaching artist and poet mentor at Southern Word and I also direct, write, and act in stage performances in my community in the hopes of empowering others with my words.
Keep following my journey


High School
Tennessee State University
Belmont University


Teaching Artist & Poet Mentor

I am a poet, speaker, and teaching artist using poetry and spoken word to empower others.

Career Roadmap

My work combines:
My work combines:
Communicating / Sharing Stories

Day to Day

As a teaching artist, I implement lesson plans teaching the fundamentals of poetry and spoken word in public, private, and alternative schools. I work to provide creative but disciplined environments that help cultivate excellence in the presentation and written skill of students from elementary to high school. I also have to effectively manage after-school poetry workshops at churches and the Nashville Downtown Public Library. As a poet and speaker, I am always writing and performing.

Skills & Qualities Beyond School

Love the power of words and love writing. You have to give the best of yourself and give big love to others around you. Don't carry the struggles of others on your back, we can only carry what we have been given. You have to help yourself and prioritize yourself first before you can be there for others. Focus on loving yourself.

Advice for Getting Started

Here's the first step for everyone

Have confidence in your abilities and your work and be brave enough to perform it for others. Leave your own personal stamp on everything you do. Don't let yourself be defined by just one thing and don't limit yourself.


The Noise I Shed

From Myself:

"What have I done? I've ruined my life. I'm not going to be everything that I was supposed to be."

Challenges I Overcame

Changed Major
Young Parent

Interviewed By



Future of Work Roadtrip