Books Magazine

Blood Dazzler by Patricia Smith

By Pamelascott

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 heart-breaking 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.


[This is not morning / There is a nastiness slowing your shoes / something you shouldn't step in - AND THEN SHE OWNS YOU] ***

(Coffee House Press., 18 November 2013, ebook, 90 pages, borrowed from the National Poetry Library)



This is my first time reading the poet. It definitely won't be my last. I thought this collection was great. Smith is bold in tacking a natural catastrophe such as Hurricane Katrina through poetry. Poetry is the best format to tackle such subjects and Smith proves it. I was awed, staggered and moved to tears. I particularly enjoyed the poems written in the voice of the hurricane. At face value this seems a ridiculous idea but I got chills. I thought my heart was going to give out when I read about the nursing home residents who drowned. In poem after poem, Smith makes the devastation of Hurricane Katrina relatable for everyone. I particularly enjoyed Why New Orleans Is, Ghazal, Up on the Roof, Katrina and Don't Drink The Water.

Blood Dazzler Patricia Smith

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