I recently read Patricia Smith‘s Teahouse of the Almighty, a 2005 National Poetry Series selection. I had read a handful of her poems prior to this / watched some of her performances on YouTube, but had never dug too deep into her writing. As many others have been, I was blown away by her writing.
In a grungey cafe, I shared some of her poems with friends round a table tagged & scratched up with knives & graffiti. Patricia’s writing has been called “a testament to the power of words to change lives,” & that statement, however each of us individually worded it, rang true for us in that moment.
Patricia is the author of six books of poetry, including Life According to Motown (Tía Chucha Press, 1991), Big Towns, Big Talk (Zoland Books, 1992), Close to Death (Zoland Books, 1993), Teahouse of the Almighty (Coffehouse Press, 2006), Blood Dazzler (2008), a chronicle of the human and environmental cost of Hurricane Katrina which was nominated for a National Book Award; Shoulda Been Jimi Savannah (2012), which won the Lenore Marshall Prize from the Academy of American Poets. She is a four-time individual champion of the National Poetry Slam, a two-time winner of the Pushcart Prize, & her writing has appeared in Best American Poetry, Best American Essays and Best American Mystery Stories.
Patricia teaches in the MFA program at Sierra Nevada College, & is a professor of creative writing at the City University of New York/College of Staten Island. She lives in Howell, New Jersey.
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