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Blood Dazzler
by Patricia Smith


Overview - 2008 National Book Award Nominee for Poetry

Katrina

Weather is nothing until it reaches skin,
freezes dust, spits its little swords.
Kept to oceans, feeding only on salted water,
I was a rudderless woman in full tantrum,
throwing my body against worlds I wanted.
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More About Blood Dazzler by Patricia Smith
 
 
 
Overview
2008 National Book Award Nominee for Poetry

Katrina

Weather is nothing until it reaches skin,
freezes dust, spits its little swords.
Kept to oceans, feeding only on salted water,
I was a rudderless woman in full tantrum,
throwing my body against worlds I wanted.
I never saw harm in lending that ache.
All I ever wanted to be
was a wet, gorgeous mistake,
a reason to crave shelter.

--poem from Patricia Smith's Blood Dazzler

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.

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9781566892186
  • ISBN-10: 156689218X
  • Publisher: Coffee House Press
  • Publish Date: September 2008
  • Page Count: 77
  • Dimensions: 8.9 x 5.8 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.35 pounds


Related Categories

Books > Poetry > American - General

 
BookPage Reviews

Small wonders

Many of the year's best collections have been published by small publishing houses, which, along with university presses, comprise the backbone of poetry publication. For example, Graywolf's Elizabeth Alexander wrote and read the inaugural poem, and Coffee House Press author Patricia Smith's Blood Dazzler, a Category-5 sequence about Katrina, was a National Book Award nominee. Overlook has just issued a collection not-really-for children (unless their parents are willing to pay for years of therapy), Shut Up, You're Fine, by Pulitzer Prize- and National Book Award-nominated author Andrew Hudgins with illustrations by the acclaimed Barry Moser; and BOA Editions recently issued one of the year's most interesting books, The Heaven-Sent Leaf, a collection of parable-like poems about that seemingly most unpoetic of subjects, money, by former hedge-funder Katy Lederer. Finally, Copper Canyon's 2008 list included C.D. Wright's Rising Falling Hovering, whose singular mix of Ozarkiana, the avant-garde and social consciousness has made her one of today's most interesting and admired poets.

 
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