patricia smith, poet
Patricia Smith

SHOULDA BEEN JIMI SAVANNAH: WINNER OF THE 2014 REBEKAH BOBBITT PRIZE from the Library of Congress (for the most distinguished book of poetry published in the the previous two years) and The Academy of American Poets 2013 LENORE MARSHALL POETRY PRIZE (for the most outstanding book of poetry published in the previous year).

In Shoulda Been Jimi Savannah, which was also a winner of the Phillis Wheatley Award in Poetry and finalist for the William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America and the Balcones 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 swayed by Motown, she captures the rampant romanticism of waiting and hoping and the dogged disappointment and damage of living under a delusion. Employing a potent mixture of free verse and both traditional and invented forms, she reveals “that soul beneath the vinyl.” Purchase a copy on the Books page.

Patricia’s work is featured in the 2011 editions of both Best American Poetry and Best American Essays. Her contribution to the anthology Staten Island Noir, which she also edited, won a Robert L. Fish Award from the Mystery Writers of America and is upcoming in Best American Mystery Stories 2013. Other honors include the National Poetry Series, two Pushcart Prizes and coveted MacDowell and Yaddo fellowships. In 2012, she was featured on the cover of the 100th anniversary issue of Poetry.

Patricia’s groundbreaking book Blood Dazzler -- which chronicles the human, emotional and physical toll exacted by Hurricane Katrina -- was a finalist for the 2008 National Book Award, and one of NPR’s Top Books of 2008. The book was the basis for a thrilling dance/theater collaboration, which sold out its performances at NYC’s Harlem Stage.

Other books include Teahouse of the Almighty Close to DeathBig Towns, Big Talk, and Life According to Motown, just released in a 20th anniversary edition. She also penned the history book Africans in America and the award-winning children’s book Janna and the Kings.

With four National Poetry Slam individual champions, Patricia is the most successful slammer in the competition’s history--and arguably, the world’s best spoken word performer. She’s shared the stage with Pulitzer Prize winners, U.S. poet laureates and notables including Gwendolyn Brooks, Adrienne Rich, Terrance Hayes, Allen Ginsberg, Lucille Clifton, Nikky Finney, W.S. Merwin and Stephen Dobyns, ex-U.S. Secretary of State Madeline Albright, Ugly Betty, Anna Deavere Smith, singer Marilyn Manson, former Chicago mayor Richard Daley and “Lord of the Rings” star Viggo Mortenson.

A sought-after speaker, inspiring instructor and experience leader of workshop and residencies, Patricia crafts innovative classes in writing and performance for squirming 1st-graders, seasoned pros, soccer moms, prisoners, surly preteens and college students. She now offers intensive individualized instruction featuring manuscript construction and consultation, as well as critique of packets of individual poems.

Eclectic author.
Riveting performer.
Energized instructor.
There’s no one like Patricia Smith.

No one.

Find out what words can do. Let her change your life.