Teahouse of the Almighty / Edition 1

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Overview

A National Poetry Series winner, chosen by Edward Sanders.

“What power. Smith’s poetry is all poetry. And visceral. Her poems get under the skin of their subjects. Their passion and empathy, their real worldliness, are blockbuster.”—Marvin Bell

“I was weeping for the beauty of poetry when I reached the end of the final poem.”—Edward Sanders, National Poetry Series judge

From Lollapalooza to Carnegie Hall, Patricia Smith has taken the stage as this nation’s premier performance poet. Featured in the film Slamnation and on the HBO series Def Poetry Jam, Smith is back with her first book in over a decade—a National Poetry Series winner weaving passionate, bluesy narratives into an empowering, finely tuned cele-bration of poetry’s liberating power.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"[A] rich, dense feast of poetry."—Hazel and Wren

“Smith appears to be that rarest of creatures, a charismatic slam and performance poet whose artistry truly survives on the printed page. Present at the creation of the slam in early-’80s Chicago and included in seminal films and anthologies, Smith (Big Towns, Big Talk, 1992) receded from the scene in recent years after her career as a newspaper journalist ended in scandal. This National Poetry Series–winning volume marks a triumphal return, showing an energetic writer with four urgent subjects. She depicts endangered children. She celebrates sex and sexuality, from the public display of celebrities to the power of the female orgasm: ‘Don’t hate me because I’m multiple.’ She considers the heritage of black American art, in musical performance and in writing. Finally, she describes the experience of performance itself, with all its pride and embarrassment: ‘Angry, jubilant, weeping poets… we are all/ saviors, reluctant hosannas in the limelight.’ Several poems also animate the troubled lives of famous blues singers; elsewhere, a mother considers how her incarcerated son became a ‘jailhouse scribe.’ A superb variety of lines and forms—short and long, hesitant and rapid-fire—gives the book additional depth. Smith even offers fine advice: ‘Breathe/ like your living depends on it.’” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Smith writes the way Tina Turner sings.” —E. Ethelbert Miller

“Teahouse of the Almighty is searing, honest, well-crafted, and full of the real world transformed by Patricia Smith’s fine ear for nuance and the shaking of the soul’s duties. I was weeping for the beauty of poetry when I reached the end of the final poem.”
Edward Sanders, National Poetry Series judge

“What power. Smith’s poetry is all poetry. And visceral. Her poems get under the skin of their subjects. Their passion and empathy, their real worldliness, are blockbuster.” —Marvin Bell

“Not many poets will make you laugh out loud, grow uneasily warm with the recognition of self, sit riveted by the sheer shock of contending with human suffering, and feel as if you are alone with her as she tells her stories. But not many poets are Patricia Smith and not many books are as delightful and moving as her splendid Teahouse of the Almighty. Her secret is an absolute comfort in her own voice—her poems arrive with assurance and force.” —Kwame Dawes

“These poems are so fierce and tender, so unflinching, so loud and exquisite, so carefully crafted, so important, so right-on. They can make you gasp, rage, weep, belly-laugh, throw your arms open to them and the worlds they contain, push away or punch at the wrongs they chronicle. They bear such terrible beauty. Brava to Miss Patricia Smith, who pulls poems from the center of the earth.” —Elizabeth Alexander

Publishers Weekly
Smith appears to be that rarest of creatures, a charismatic slam and performance poet whose artistry truly survives on the printed page. Present at the creation of the slam in early-'80s Chicago and included in seminal films and anthologies, Smith (Big Towns, Big Talk, 1992) receded from the scene in recent years after her career as a newspaper journalist ended in scandal. This National Poetry Series-winning volume marks a triumphal return, showing an energetic writer with four urgent subjects. She depicts endangered children. She celebrates sex and sexuality, from the public display of celebrities to the power of the female orgasm: "Don't hate me because I'm multiple." She considers the heritage of black American art, in musical performance and in writing. Finally, she describes the experience of performance itself, with all its pride and embarrassment: "Angry, jubilant, weeping poets... we are all/ saviors, reluctant hosannas in the limelight." Several poems also animate the troubled lives of famous blues singers; elsewhere, a mother considers how her incarcerated son became a "jailhouse scribe." A superb variety of lines and forms-short and long, hesitant and rapid-fire-gives the book additional depth. Smith even offers fine advice: "Breathe/ like your living depends on it." (Sept.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Proper nouns-Smith (Slamnation) calls them "mouthful nouns"-arresting verbs, and striking metaphors crack like lightning in the free verse poems in Smith's new collection. With their feminist leanings, their Biblical allusions, and their many references to newspaper articles, these performance poems place violence beside passion, love, lust, nature, and religion. Creating a stunning mix of sound and sense, the best poems become a metaphor for the power of poetry. A poem like "Stop the Presses," for example, describes the role poetry plays in peoples' lives and becomes the poem playing that role: "My job is sexy leads for the bones clattering in your closet?" Propelled by figures of sound-especially rhythm, rhyme, and repetition-the poems almost demand to be spoken aloud. Smith lets words fall purposely from the tongue, as in these lines: "Lakinishia, Fumilayo, Chevellanie, Delayo-their ragged rebellions and lip-glossed pouts, and all those pants drooped as drapery?." Blending feather-wisp feelings with knife-sharp ghetto talk, the poems mightily fuse Walt Whitman's "barbaric yawp," with the blues. Suitable for all libraries.-Diane Scharper, Towson Univ., MD Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781566891936
  • Publisher: Coffee House Press
  • Publication date: 9/1/2006
  • Series: The National Poetry Series
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 114
  • Sales rank: 1,448,211
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.30 (d)

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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Table of Contents

Building Nicole's mama 1
Giving birth to soldiers 4
It had the beat inevitable 5
Mississippi's legs 6
Walloping! : magnifying of a guy's anatomy easily 9
10 ways to get Ray Charles and Ronald Reagan into the same poem 10
The world won't wait 13
Listening at the door 15
The end of a marriage 16
Boy dies, girlfriend gets his heart 17
Dumpsters, wastebaskets, shallow graves 19
To 3, no one in the place 20
Sacrifice 22
My million fathers, still here past 23
How to be a lecherous little old black man and make lots of money 26
Hallelujah with your name 28
Little poetry 31
Can't hear nothing for that damned train 32
Drink, you motherfuckers 33
Deltateach 36
Creatively loved 39
Elegantly ending 40
Sex and music 42
Map rappin' 43
In the audience tonight 47
Weapon ultimate 49
Scribe 50
The circus is in town 53
Her other name 55
Forgotten in all this 58
Down 4 the up stroke 60
Women are taught 61
Look at 'em go 64
Stop the presses 65
What you pray toward 66
What men do with their mouths 68
Dream dead daddy walking 69
Writing exercise breathing outside my binder 70
The thrill is on 71
Blues through 2 bone 73
Fireman 74
Psyche! 76
Related to the buttercup, blooms in spring 78
When Dexter King met James Earl Ray 82
All his distressing disguises 84
Teahouse of the almighty 85
Running for Aretha 87
When the burning begins 89
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