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Blood Dazzler Paperback – September 1, 2008


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 90 pages
  • Publisher: Coffee House Press (September 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 156689218X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1566892186
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 5.9 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #336,454 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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.)
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From Booklist

In her fifth collection, Smith, a poetry-slam champion and and recipient of the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, presents towering testament to the tragedy of New Orleans before, during, and after Katrina. Her ear for voice and gift for persona poems make for a complex, colloquial, thought-provoking, and nearly minute-to-minute account of the catastrophe that captures the power of nature and the failure of leadership. Smith’s observations are painstakingly revealing and unabashedly critical, especially juxtaposed against the beauty of her terse free verse and formal sestina and rhymed sonnets. Following Teahouse of the Almighty (2006), this accomplished work reaffirms her position as one of American’s strongest and most clarion poetic voices. As Smith writes of Katrina, so to it might be said of this book, “Never has there been / a wind like this. Its throaty / howl has memorized / my name. And it calls, and it / calls, and lamb to ax, I come.” --Mark Eleveld

More About the Author

Patricia Smith is the author of five volumes of poetry, including Blood Dazzler, a finalist for the 2008 National Book Award, Teahouse of the Almighty, a National Poetry Series selection, and Shoulda Been Jimi Savannah. A professor for the City University of New York and a Cave Canem faculty member, she lives in New Jersey with her husband, Edgar Award-winning novelist Bruce DeSilva, her granddaughter Mikaila, and two humungous dogs, Brady and Rondo.

Customer Reviews

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I bought this for a class, but was very pleasantly surprised.
Jennifer Vazquez
This is truly American book about a regrettably American tragedy, and Patricia Smith remains true to herself as one of the boldest voices we have in American poetry.
C. O. Aptowicz
She then introduce the reader to New Orleans and a few individual characters and a dog within the city.
D. Davis

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Oscar Bermeo on October 15, 2008
Format: Paperback
Patricia Smith's Blood Dazzler writes in the moment of Hurricane Katrina, from the formation of Katrina all the way to its monstrous after effects on the citizens on New Orleans, from every internal view point possible. Persona poems written in the voice of Katrina, New Orleans (before and during the storm), former FEMA Director Michael Brown, Ethel Freeman and family, the 34 victims of St Rita's, and even a local dog left out to weather the storm.

Utilizing a variety of poetic forms (sestina, ghazal, tanka, abecedarian) and shifts in language that relay power, dread, scorn, and (ultimately) survival, this collection moves past the trend of poetics emerging from large scope tragedies--where the poet writes in simple response to the tragedy but rarely places the poetic speaker in the complexities of the tragedy itself--and sets a new benchmark for the poetics of witness.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By doc peterson VINE VOICE on May 31, 2010
Format: Paperback
_Blood Dazzler_ is a collection of poems around Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. The works have the impact of a closed fist, beginning with the storm's growth, its building strength, the anticipation of its arrival and landfall and later, the monumental mishandling of the disaster (natural and man-made).

I was particularly moved with "Man on the TV say":

"Go. He say it simple, grey eyes straight on and watered,
he say it in the machine throat they got.
On the wall behind him, there's a moving picture
of the sky dripping something worse than rain.
Go, he say. Pick up y'all black asses and run.
... Uh-huh. Like our bodies got wheels and gas,
like at the end of running there's an open door
with dry and song inside. ..."

That the poor and black and marginalized were the hardest hit, the most exploited and the least capable to re-build and return are now a thing of legend. The injustice of it is powerfully presented here. As Smith writes in one of the concluding poems:

" ... Separate God's name from your prayer, and hope
He remembers the brutal long-ago ways of magick:
Blood in the water.
Blood cleanses water."

For many, (residents of the Gulf coast in particular) Katrina is something they'd rather forget. I disagree - those of us untouched by the tragedy would do well not to forget. Smith's poems show why it is important to remember.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By C. O. Aptowicz on September 8, 2008
Format: Paperback
"Blood Dazzler" is the latest of Patricia Smith's nuanced poetry collections cataloguing the American experience, but I have found this one to be the best yet.

Focusing her undeniable talent, sharp ears and limitless heart on Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, Smith is able to explore the events, the city and its people in ways that feel both fresh and familiar. These are people we know, stories we've heard, and yet Smith does not pity, nor glorify, nor treat the situation as a lamentable but distant "other."

As with her previous books, Smith gives it to us straight. She allows us to see people as they are -- as human, as flawed, as beautiful. Smith fearlessly explores the entire landscape of the tragedy with poems from POV of FEMA workers nestled next to poems from the perspective of abandoned dogs, poems about displaced school children next to poems about triumph drag queens slogging through the mud, even the Superdome, Hurricane Betsy and Hurricane Katrina, herself, have their say. Smith explores the darkest corners of this tragedy, but also sees the light as well, as faith and endurance are celebrated.

This is truly American book about a regrettably American tragedy, and Patricia Smith remains true to herself as one of the boldest voices we have in American poetry.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By D. Davis on October 9, 2013
Format: Paperback
I found Blood Dazzler a great read.I like how the storm was introduced. She then introduce the reader to New Orleans and a few individual characters and a dog within the city. Miss Smith continues to take the reader into the storm itself and Katrina's perfect devastation. One thing I related this book to is the books of Genesis and Matthew how the people just went on as if this is just another day, one taken, one left behind, just another storm in the end of days. Miss Smith cleverly took the reader into the aftermath of Katrina and the non-existence Help on the way. I have read this book several times and I truly enjoy every single poem, but the one that I will mention here is "Siblings," and these words:
None of them talked about Katrina.
She was their odd sister,
the blood dazzler.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Zirtavia on January 31, 2012
Format: Paperback
I'm new to modern poetry, and this is the first collection of poems that has moved me to tears. I'm a college student, and in our present day I've found it's terrifically easy to become numb to all of the tragedies of the world. I watched the devastation of Katrina from an afar emotional remove, similarly to most of us, I think. This book finally balled up all the tragedies of that time and struggled them into my heart. It's tragic and horrible and screeching. It's sometimes from the point of view of the dying, sometimes from the survivors, and sometimes from the view of the storm herself, and all of their voices give you a beautiful song of how very wrong it all was.

This is worth your money, and the author deserves awards for capturing a piece of history here. If someone asked me in a hundred years to explain Katrina to them, I would hand them this book.
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