Donté Clark and Russell Simmons on "Romeo is Bleeding" and why poetry matters

New documentary "Romeo is Bleeding" follows spoken word artist Donté Clark as he mentors high school students in Richmond, California, a city notorious for gang violence.

In the film, Clark teaches the teenagers spoken word poetry and works with them to adapt Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" into a modern day Richmond tale, hoping to start a dialogue about violence in the city. Viewers watch Clark, the city's poet laureate, struggle to stay optimistic as loved ones get killed or put in prison. 

Clark and Russell Simmons, executive producer of "Romeo is Bleeding," talked to CBS News about why art is crucial to survival in troubled communities.

Simmons name-checked President Donald Trump and said, "Watching that movie and [Clark] transform is a mirror for so many artists who have survived because of art. I wouldn't be here without art. He wouldn't be here without art and right now, in a moment where Trump is taking away a lot of the art and practice and appreciation opportunities, it's really important we keep putting it in front of our children." 

Clark said he can't even count how many friends and acquaintances in the community have been killed, but his art keeps him moving forward.

"It's all I got," he said. "I feel like everybody has a purpose to be healers and it's just me realizing what mine is. It's to use these words to the betterment not just of myself, but of the community."

Simmons added, "[People in the community] need voiceless people to have a voice and poetry is a voice that not only for individuals to heal themselves but to heal the world." 

Watch the video above to see Clark's impromptu spoken word performance. 

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