patricia smith, poet


shoulda been jimi savannah book

Shoulda Been Jimi Savannah

Winner of the 2014 Rebekah Bobbitt Prize
Winner of the 2013 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize

National Book Award finalist Patricia Smith explores the second wave of the Great Migration. From her parents’ move from the South to Chicago to being raised as an “up North” child under the spell of Motown music, she captures the rampant romanticism of waiting and hoping and the dogged disappointment and damage of living under a delusion. Shifting from spoken word to free verse to traditional forms, she reveals “that soul beneath the vinyl.”
$16.00 + $2 S&H

This book will arrive signed by the author.


“ Patricia Smith is writing some of the best poetry in America today. Ms. Smith’s new book is just beautiful—and like the America she embodies and represents—dangerously beautiful. Shoulda Been Jimi Savannah is a stunning and transcendent work of art, despite, and perhaps because of, its pain. This book shines.” —Sapphire

“ Here is one of our essential poets at the top of her form, bristling with energy and fire, praise and outrage. There’s no one like Patricia Smith, and her bold, necessary poems light up the American twentieth century in all its song and sorrow.” —Mark Doty

“ From the Mississippi Delta to Chicago, these poems embody America. Patricia Smith is a formidably gifted poet, yet perhaps her greatest gift is her openness—my heart is made larger when I live with any of her words, if only for awhile.”—Nick Flynn

“ At her best Patricia Smith writes poems full of risk and courage, thick with pain and alive with insight and humor. At her best, Patricia Smith confronts memory with delight and alarm, and manages to find music in the abject and callow. At her best, Patricia Smith has discovered the necessary equation to make beautiful, memorable poems: she calls it ‘the crunch / of bone, suck of marrow.’ In Shoulda Been Jimi Savannah, part elegy to things past, part epic poem of migration and the planting of roots, part anthem to Chicago, to family, to the deepest unspeakable secrets of a girl’s coming of age, Patricia Smith is at her best, and the gift she presents to us is truly, truly priceless.” —Kwame Dawes

“ Patricia Smith’s newest collection, Shoulda Been Jimi Savannah, evokes a sense of history and self-awareness combined with precise storytelling and the most crafted verse. . . . In her current incarnation, we find one of the most authentic voices of Modern American Poetry.” —Pank Magazine

“ The people here are so vividly drawn that the reader is deep in their world by the fourth poem of the book, and what a rich, many-layered world Smith creates, full of passion, struggle, and a fierce and vivid surviving, behind which, all ‘swerve and pivot,’ all ‘languid, liquid, luscious’ is Motown. . . . Smith’s poems are their own powerful music.” —Mead Magazine

“ Welcome to a place of hopes and dreams punctured with rawness and pain. Patricia Smith’s autobiographical epic is cinematic in scale yet music box in intimacy. . . . Smith compresses culture ’til it peals like crystal—like singing light.”—The Brooklyn Rail

“ Smith is a powerhouse poet.  Her poems are as tightly constructed as masonry, yet they are quick-footed, spinning, singing, funny, and heartbreaking. . . . Smith’s immediate, deeply compassionate, magnificently detailed narrative poems of one young woman’s complicated coming-of-age embody the sorrows, outrage, and transcendence of race-bedeviled, music-redeemed twentieth-century America.” —Booklist (starred review)

“ Motown saturates the language and weaves itself into Smith’s narratives. Focusing on the stinging memories of growing up black and a woman during the 1960s, one could overlook Smith’s mastery of rhyme, rhythm and form, but it runs like an electric current throughout the collection.” -- Publishers Weekly

blood dazzler by patricia smith Blood Dazzler – 2008 National Book Award Finalist!

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 5 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 on television.
$16.00 + $2 S&H

This book will arrive signed by the author.

“ Hurricane Katrina has receded from the national news, but the destruction it wrought has found testimony in literature. Patricia Smith's €erce, blood-in-the-mouth collection of poems, a €nalist for the National Book Award, grows out of this disaster and already has the whiff and feel of folklore. The storm, Smith reminds, was hardest on those who had the least, many of whom will never return home again. Inhabiting one voice after another, she evokes the way total loss can dignify a paucity of possessions. In other poems, she powerfully impersonates the storm itself: its bulging, seething menace; the way it flung people to all corners of America; how the loss it unleashed felt biblical, a very personal punishment.” - John Freeman, naming Blood Dazzler one of NPR’s Top Books of 2008

“ Spiritual and gutsy, Patricia Smith’s satirical poems lay New Orleans bare, with Katrina at the driving wheel, howling and whispering her personsified moments of destruction and healing. ‘Blood Dazzler’ is a document of feelings, whose tinges of the blues capture an urgent witnessing through the natural empathy embedded in praise, woe, and awe.”—Yusef Komunyakaa

‘ This riveting sequence gives voice to a wild raw whirlwind that ruined a city and brought on, in turn, a storm of neglect and murderous indifference. With her radiant powers of empathy, her fiercely acute ear for the musical possibilities of American speech, and her undiluted rage, Patricia Smith makes in Katrina’s wake a sorrowful, unflinching, and glorious book.”—Mark Doty

“Blood Dazzler is Patricia Smith’s impassioned lyric chronicle of a beloved city in peril, a city whose people were left to die before us all, a people who were the heart of our country and lifeblood of our culture. After rising water, winds and abandonment, after our failure and neglect, comes this symphony of utterance from the ruins: many-voiced, poignant, sorrowful and fierce. This is poetry taking the full measure of its task.”—Carolyn Forche

"Patricia Smith is one of the best poets around and has been for a long time. Her Blood Dazzler is full of capacious soul and formal inventiveness: the compassion and artfulness necessary to capture the tragedies and Tragedy of Katrina.  Smith is herself a storm of beautiful, frightening talent. Her words will wash you or wash you away. I consider this new book a major literary event."—Terrance Hayes

teahouse of the almoghty by patricia smith

Teahouse of the Almighty

A National Poetry Series selection and winner of the Hurston-Wright Legacy Award and Paterson Poetry Prize.... Judge Edward Sanders said: “I was weeping for the beauty of poetry when I reached the end of the final poem.”
$15.00 + $2 S&H

This book will arrive signed by the author.


“Smith appears to be that rarest of creatures, a charismatic slam and performance poet whose artistry truly survives on the printed page.”—Publisher Weekly (starred review!)

“What power. Smith’s poetry is all poetry. And visceral. Their passion and empathy, their real worldliness, are blockbuster.”—Marvin Bell

“Blending feather-wisp feelings with knife-sharp ghetto talk, the poems mightily fuse Walt Whitman’s ‘barbaric yawp’ with the blues.” –Library Journal

“Of all the poets slammin’ in Def Poetry Jam and performance poetry and dooking out contestants repeatedly at the National Poetry Slam, Patricia Smith has both the literary chops on the page and the spirited mouth to transcend both. Plain and simple.”— Bob Arnold, Longhouse Publishers & Booksellers

“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.”—Elizabeth Alexander

“There seems to be nothing Patricia Smith can't write a poem about...her inspirations are various and dazzling. Smith approaches the themes of love, family, and violence through accessible, graceful language..."--Entertainment Weekly, Grade: A

“Smith is a speech pathologist’s wet dream. This is hard-edged, street-wise, hip-swaying word magic. . . . One cannot look away from the necessity of these poems, their sheer urgency and risk. One feels these poems need to happen. --Matthew Siegel, Gulf Coast, a Journal of Literature and Fine Art

“It’s been some some some some time since I’ve read a new book with quite the skill, depth, toughness, beauty and final loving hand. . . . The book arrived yesterday and I read it twice, as if there were a choice. Put this book into every hand and library.” --Bob Arnold, founder, Longhouse Publishers

“Now it can be said: Patricia Smith is our Gwendolyn Brooks, inspiring and firing up everywhere she goes. . . . Teahouse of the Almighty is simply great poetry, and a testament to who Patricia Smith is, where she’s been. It’s the sign we’ve been waiting for, the Book of the Year” --Bob Holman and Margery Snyder, Your Guide to Poetry,


close to death by patricia smith

Close to Death

This collection of persona poems is both a tribute to and searing elegy for the lives of black men. Widely used to introduce urban youth to poetry, C2D includes the jolting signature poem “Undertaker.”
$13.00 + $2 S&H

This book will arrive signed by the author.


“Smith writes the way Tina Turner sings. . . . Blues not as comforting lyrics but as truth revealed in all its rawness … Smith struts with compassion.” –E. Ethelbert Miller

“Souls rage from the hellfire of the streets, and Smith effectively captures the language and urgency, the rhythms and fury.”—Library Journal

“One of today’s most authoritative and promising African-American poets. This is powerful, demanding, important work.”—Booklist


big town, big talk by patricia smith Big Towns, Big Talk

Infused with an irresistible jazz, these poems beg to be read aloud. Winner of the prestigious Carl Sandburg Award, Big Towns is a snapshot of a writer/performer blending the two seamlessly and reaching the height of her powers.
$10 + $2 S&H

This Book will arrive signed by the author.


“The voice transcends the individual pain and helps to nourish us all. These poems are blessings that move like white light through your veins.”—American Book Review

“Smith’s work might be compared to some of Lucille Clifton’s work, with its double edge of anger and sensuality…the voice that emerges in these poems is strong, fearless and passionate.”—Choice

life according to motown by patricia smith Life According to Motown

After five printings, this bestseller, published in 1991, has been released in a special 20th anniversary edition, featuring a new introduction by the author. This sparkling debut was birthed in Chicago's saloon poetry heyday, when bared souls first took the stage and the whispered word was "slam." It's a classic by a poetry slam pioneer.
$16 + $2 S&H

This book will arrive signed by the author.



africans in america by patricia smith Staten Island Noir

Edited by Patricia Smith, this is a vital entry into Akashic Books’ groundbreaking series of original noir anthologies; each book is comprised of all-new stories, each one set in a distinct neighborhood or location within the city of the book. Staten Island is the last of the boroughs to be included. The story “When They Are Done With Us” won the Robert L. Fish Award from the Mystery Writers of America. Contributors: include Bill Loehfelm, S.J. Rozan, Ted Anthony, Todd Craig, Ashley Dawson, Bruce DeSilva, Louisa Ermelino, Binnie Kirshenbaum, Michael Largo, Mike Penncavage, Linda Nieves-Powell, Patricia Smith, Shay Youngblood and Eddie Joyce.


africans in america by patricia smith Africans in America: America’s Journey Through Slavery

A companion volume to the groundbreaking PBS series, Africans in America is a lyrical and thoroughly researched chronicle.

“A monumental research effort wed with fine writing…ultimately shaped by Smith’s beautiful narrative.”—Publisher’s Weekly

“With its vivid language, and historical integrity, Africans in America is a major contribution to this country’s written history.”—Michelle Cliff, San Jose Mercury News


janna and the kings Janna and the Kings

Smith’s debut children’s book, winner of the Lee & Low Books’ 2003 New Voices Award, is the story of a young girl’s warm relationship with her grandfather. After his death, Janna wonders if his life-long buddies—the “kings” who inhabit the neighborhood barbershop—will still consider her a part of their circle.

" The love pours through on every page in this elegantly written tale about a girl who spends Saturdays with her grandfather, her king. . . . Sweet and tender, full of solace."--Family Fun Magazine