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Blood Dazzler Paperback – September 1, 2008
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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.
Taking that into account, Blood Dazzler is the #1 poetry book I remember from college and I have read it four times. I could stop this review here and let those numbers speak for her work themselves, but I think you want more than that.
Blood Dazzler is a work of art in a rare and naked form. It's a story of Hurricane Katrina, beginning at the time she was named a tropical depression and taking the reader on a journey through the force and eye of the storm to the aftermath. There are so many different points of view and all of them are incredible, though my favorites are ones from the POV of Hurricane Katrina. Those poems are so strong and unique, but written as if Smith knew the hurricane personally, as if Smith was Katrina's conscious and was the only one able to put in words what Katrina thought as she laid waste to New Orleans.
The other POV that stayed with me was Luther B, the dog left behind, and it was heartbreaking to read his thoughts of the storm as he stayed alone and trapped by a chain to a tree as the wind howled and rain beat him like God's own angry fists.
Even just having these original ideas would have been enough for me, but Smith is amazing with her writing and each line written is perfection.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
One of the best works of poetry published in the last twenty years, "Blood Dazzler" introduces the reader to an unforgettable cast of characters living through - some... Read morePublished 9 months ago by Local Historian
Potent as the storm about which it is written. Every gut-wrenching page is worth it. For anyone who has known New Orleans, you owe it to her to read this.Published 12 months ago by J. Canzona
Classic poetry book. Really doesn't get better. Amazing imagery, great stories. Characters.
This is a masterwork of one of the greatest poets in America. Read more
Had to get it for a class but the book is awesome. Smith is deep. Love this book buy itPublished on December 24, 2013 by F. R.
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. Read morePublished on October 9, 2013 by D. Davis
A book of poetry inspired by hurricane Katrina, some by the hurricane herself, some by victims. There were several that touched me and several that I thought were powerful. Read morePublished on July 23, 2013 by Brenda
I bought this for a class, but was very pleasantly surprised. As someone who visited New Orleans after Katrina, I have only a small idea of what it must have been like for those... Read morePublished on July 6, 2013 by Jennifer Vazquez