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Teahouse of the Almighty (National Poetry) Paperback – September 1, 2006


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Teahouse of the Almighty (National Poetry) + Shoulda Been Jimi Savannah (Small Press Distribution (All Titles)) + Blood Dazzler
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Product Details

  • Series: National Poetry
  • Paperback: 114 pages
  • Publisher: Coffee House Press (September 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1566891930
  • ISBN-13: 978-1566891936
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6.2 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #690,297 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. 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.)
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Review


"[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

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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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Four-time poetry slam champion Patricia Smith presents Teahouse of the Almighty, an anthology of dynamic, free-verse poetry that sublimely captures the thrills and dilemmas of the human experience. From the sad denouement of the end of a marriage, to the numb shock surrounding a mother of soldiers losing her loved ones to war, to a visualization of Dexter King meeting James Earl Ray, each poem conceptualizes amorphous instants into heavy, tangible feeling. "Down 4 the Up Stroke": But you have poetry, you say. / And if you can tell me what poetry is, / where the line is drawn / between the beauty and the breathing / of breath into something to make it beautiful, / I will claim poetry as my own.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Aaron Starkey on December 6, 2007
Format: Paperback
I purchased Smith's Teahouse of the Almighty for I had selected her as my concentration poet for a workshop class I was taking. I had been quite fond of Patricia Smith because of her piece "Biting Back", and had a peculiar anticipation when beginning this collection. She didn't let me down at all.

The strength in delivery and tone is undeniably evident in her work. Pieces such as "Her Other Name" hit me with such a convicted presence, that it took multiple reads just to grasp and better understand how well Smith could be both incredibly blunt and fantastically poignant within the very same moment.

If almost for nothing else at all, experiencing the first poem in this collection is worth the price. "Building Nicole's Mama" spits at you raw imagery of truth while making you consider the beauty, power, and responsibility that comes with putting yourself and words down on pages.

If you have never experienced Patricia Smith before, this collection is a very worthy admissions ticket.
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By Sarah Koplowitz on August 9, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Wonderful book of intelligent writing. I highly recommend this book for anyone who loves poetry. A little bit more advanced.
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