Kane Smego brings positive energy, creativity to CF

An opportunity to learn with a spoken word poet


Kane Smego combines poetry, beatbox, impersonation, and audience participation in a unique display of slam poetry at the Dassance Fine Arts Center in Ocala.

Kane is the Associate Director of Next Level, an initiative that uses hip hop music, dance, and art to foster cross-cultural creative exchange in diverse communities.

He is also an international touring spoken word poet, emcee, educator, National Poetry Slam finalist, and a successful recording artist.

He talked about many challenging topics during the performance. Topics included race, gender, politics, religion, and language, all of which can be used to define who a person is.

He challenged everybody to “actively question, unpack, and re-learn” some of those ideas. It was more than just a conversation; it was a showcase of honesty and inclusion.

He shared his own story and gave the audience a glimpse into his experiences. He included reenactments of some of his memories, providing context as to how some of those experiences shaped his life.

As part of the performance, he also opened the floor to questions, creating an interactive dialogue between the artist and the audience.

After the performance, he held a workshop at the instructional center to help students develop strategies that encourage them to tell their own story.

                                                                                                 Monday, Oct. 25, 2021. Kane Smego live workshop. (William Cann/The Patriot Press)

In the workshop, he asked students to identify what defines them and use an innovative strategy to build a poem. Working through their experiences, students then told parts of their poems to the class.

It was an intimate exchange that was designed to erase all the boundaries in the room.

Jonathan McFarlane, 20, a CF business administration major, was asked what it was like to go through the creative process at the workshop.

“It definitely encouraged me to open up to people more, to share more, to be myself and talk to new people,” said McFarlane. “In a world full of different people, it’s best to be yourself, and I feel like I’m more comfortable sharing my story with other people.”

While some students struggled to find the words, Kane simply said “don’t get it right, get it written”. This is a motto he uses to get his thoughts and feelings out and onto paper so it can be organized later.

Kane answered a series of questions via email correspondence pertaining to the event and his role as an educator, and one of those questions was related to the honesty that he performs with.

“I’ve had some incredible mentors from a young age,” Smego said. “These mentors always encouraged honesty, authenticity, and a willingness to be vulnerable. So, I’ve always felt supported and empowered to share very openly.”

Kane’s ability to make people feel at ease in a room was an important part of the process.

Dominique Gandiongco, 21, a CF nursing major, was asked what effect the workshop had on her.

“Just thinking more creatively and digging deep down about my culture and being Asian, it’s important to spread that around to other people,” Gandiongco said. “He’s a really good speaker and made everyone feel comfortable sharing their opinions.”

Attracting a talent like Kane is not an easy task for a community college in Ocala.  

In 2015, CF developed a quality enhancement plan called StartsSmart@CF as part of the accreditation process. CF applied for, and was awarded, a federal grant through the department of education for strengthening institutions.  

Part of the grant included a Speaker Series to encourage expanding student understanding of financial literacy, civic engagement, diversity, and inclusion.  

CF also sought the help of an organization called Conscious Campus, which helps find talented speakers and performers like Kane Smego. 

Professor Karla Wilson, implementation director for the StartSmart@CF program, was asked via email correspondence about the importance of events on campus that promote diversity, inclusion, and wellness. 

“From over 25 years working with college students, I have found when a student is involved in some area of campus beyond taking a class, they are significantly more likely to be successful,” Wilson said. “Attending a performance like Kane’s will also expand their world view, facilitate personal growth, and provide inspiration and stress management”. 

The pandemic has affected students and staff at CF in a myriad of ways, and one of those ways is not being able to see live performances like this event.  

Kane offered some advice for those that have been stuck at home. 

“The pandemic, in all of its tragedy and loss, brought an unexpected opportunity (and necessity) to continue expanding our abilities,” Smego says. “In my case, it meant learning how to record my own music in a home studio, and learning to shoot and edit my own videos. This has helped me level up and build more confidence in a new area” 

Now that things are beginning to normalize in terms of social gatherings, students can continue to benefit from the unique talent that the Speaker Series has offered. The full event schedule for CF can be found here, and students are encouraged to check regularly.  

Inspiration from events like this can help students find ways to, as Kane says, “level up”. A live event offers more value than a virtual one, and not just for the audience, but for the artist too. 

“I truly mean it when I say I gain inspiration from every workshop,” Smego says. “Especially those moments witnessing someone discover a new element of their voice or articulate a piece of their story in a way they might never had been able to do before”.