cover image Blood Dazzler

Blood Dazzler

Patricia Smith, . . Coffee House, $16 (77pp) ISBN 978-1-56689-218-6

Two new books of poetry show us Katrina-devastated New Orleans from the inside.

Blood Dazzler Patricia Smith . Coffee House (Consortium, dist.), $16 paper (90p) ISBN 978-1-56689-218-6

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.)