Simultaneously accessible and daring, these short, fiery verses describe with sorrow and passion the Crescent City just before, during and immediately after Katrina. They describe it from startling points of view-one series of poems takes the vantage point of "Luther B," a hardy abandoned dog. Another set speaks for the hurricane itself: "every woman begins as weather," Katrina warns, "sips slow thunder, knows her hips." Other speakers include the spirit of Voodoo, a nursing home patient, a rapist, George W. Bush and a drag queen whose good humor helps her survive: "This damned trod spells ruin for her party pumps." Known now as a poet of both the page and stage, Smith (Teahouse of the Almighty) was present at the creation of the poetry slam, in 1980s Chicago. Her command of the spoken voice gives her work both speed and pathos. She benefits, too, from her range of forms: rhymed sonnet, sestina, alphabet poem, long- and short-lined, and fragmentary free verse. This book will stand out among literary records of Katrina's devastation. (Sept.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Blood Dazzlerby Patricia Smith
In minute-by-minute detail, Patricia Smith tracks Hurricane Katrina as it transforms into a full-blown mistress of destruction. From August 23, 2005, the day Tropical Depression Twelve developed, through August 28 when it became a Category Five storm with its “scarlet glare fixed on the trembling crescent,” to the heartbreaking aftermath, these poems
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In minute-by-minute detail, Patricia Smith tracks Hurricane Katrina as it transforms into a full-blown mistress of destruction. From August 23, 2005, the day Tropical Depression Twelve developed, through August 28 when it became a Category Five storm with its “scarlet glare fixed on the trembling crescent,” to the heartbreaking aftermath, these poems evoke the horror that unfolded in New Orleans as America watched it on television.
Assuming the voices of flailing politicians, the dying, their survivors, and the voice of the hurricane itself, Smith follows the woefully inadequate relief effort and stands witness to families held captive on rooftops and in the Superdome. She gives voice to the thirty-four nursing home residents who drowned in St. Bernard Parish and recalls the day after their deaths when George W. Bush accompanied country singer Mark Willis on guitar:
The cowboy grins through the terrible din,
And in the Ninth, a choking woman wails
Look like this country done left us for dead.
An unforgettable reminder that poetry can still be “news that stays news,” Blood Dazzler is a necessary step toward national healing.
Patricia Smith is the author of four previous collections of poetry, including Teahouse of the Almighty, winner of the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award and the Paterson Poetry Prize. A record-setting, national poetry slam champion, she was featured in the film Slamnation, on the HBO series Def Poetry Jam, and is a frequent contributor to Harriet, the Poetry Foundation’s blog. Visit her website at www.wordwoman.ws.
A multiple-award-winning poet, Smith comes through with a remarkable work: a literally blow-by-blow account of Katrina as it swept into New Orleans. There's water, chill, fear, anger, and death here, and even the hurricane itself personified: "I see/ what this language does/ and taste/ soil on my tongue/ and feel/ brick splintering spine/ and hear/ them/ and want it/ all."
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Meet the Author
Patricia Smith is the author of four previous collections of poetry, including Teahouse of the Almighty, winner of the 2007 Hurston / Wright Legacy Award. A record-setting, four-time national poetry slam champion, she was featured in the film Slamnation, on the HBO series Def Poetry Jam, and is a frequent contributor to Harriet, the Poetry Foundation's web log.
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THIS BOOK IS JUST AWFUL AWFUL AWFUL AWFUL!!!! IT IS OBVIOUS THAT PATRICIA SMITH GOT HER INFORMATION ABOUT THE STORM STRICTLY FROM THE NEWS. SHE HAS NO IDEA WHAT SHE IS TALKING ABOUT. IT IS SO DISRESPECTFUL TO THE PEOPLE OF NEW ORLEANS, ESPECIALLY TO THOSE WHO LOST THEIR LIVES. SHE MADE IT SEEM AS IF NEW ORLEANS DESERVED THE STORM AND ALL ITS DESTRUCTION. I WONDER IF SMITH EVER EVEN CAME TO NEW ORLEANS. I WOULD LIKE TO BUY EVERY COPY I CAN FIND AND BURN THEM ALL, BUT I DON'T WANT TO GIVE SMITH A PENNY OF MY MONEY. I HOPE NO ONE EVER BUYS A BOOK FROM HER AGAIN. AND THE WHOLE THING ABOUT IT WINNING AN AWARD, THE PEOPLE WHO GAVE THE BOOK AN AWARD ARE NOT FROM NEW ORLEANS EITHER AND THEY HAVE NO IDEA HOW DISRESPECTFUL THE BOOK IS. PATRICIA SMITH WRITING THIS BOOK WOULD BE LIKE ME WRITING A BOOK ABOUT 9-11. IT IS NOT MY PLACE TO WRITE A BOOK LIKE THAT; IT IS THE PLACE OF THE FAMILIES WHO WERE THERE AND EXPERIENCED ITS DESTRUCTION. PATRICIA SMITH JUST WANTED TO MAKE A FEW EXTRA BUCKS AND WHAT SHE GOT WAS A WHOLE STATE HATING HER BECAUSE OF HOW DISRESPECTFUL SHE IS.