Finalist for the National Book Award
”Out of the maelstrom of the Slam, Patricia Smith conjures a harsh and elegant poetry in Blood Dazzler. Readers suspicious of her performance pedigree will note the formal ingenuity, whether sonnet, tanka, or collage. At the same time, the audience who prefers the live mic will be seized by the power of her voices, including that of Katrina ‘in full tantrum.‘ From a confluence of poetic sensibilities, in a hot political wind, Smith rises above mere topicality to address timeless concerns.” —National Book Award citation
In minute-by-minute detail, this award-winning book tracks Hurricane Katrina’s transformation into a full-blown mistress of destruction. From August 23, 2005, the day Tropical Depression 12 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.
Assuming the voices of flailing politicians, the dying, their survivors, and the voice of the hurricane itself, the poet follows the woefully inadequate relief effort and stands witness to the immeasurable losses. An unforgettable reminder that poetry can still be “news that stays news,” Blood Dazzler serves not only as a memorial, but as a necessary step toward national healing.
— Carolyn Forché