Thankful Thursday: Patricia Smith

Patricia Smith, Blood Dazzler author, read at the Seattle Arts and Lecture series and I left, so inspired.

Blood Dazzler

There are some poets who when you hear them or read them, make you want to become a better poet.  Patricia did this for me.  She is not just incredible with words, but with delivery.

I left wanting to be a better reader when I recite my poems.

She created connection with the audience the moment she walked on the stage.  It was not us watching Patricia read, but we were part of the reading.  She let us in on so many levels.

It's hard to explain. I know part of it is energy.  I know part of it is what she says and how she interacts.  She never wanted us to feel "left out" in anyway.  Think about going to a reading where you think something like, "This reader could just be reading to a brick wall (and might as well be)," because it makes NO difference whether we are in the room or not, he's going to read his poem, he's going to assume you care because your butt is in a chair.  But you don't care, you're thinking about your shopping list and when this reading will end and he's thinking about "should I have come out tonight because there's only a handful of people" and "I wonder if Wallace Stevens wore boxers" and "Maybe I'll steak tonight" and "I have all these papers to grade" and "I wonder if that woman who I bought the latte from looks like naked."

Patricia was nothing like the dull, dry, uncaring poet that has/might be/is the stereotype of what is wrong with poetry readings.  She is the comet when you were expecting a clear night and no rain.  She is the unexpected hug when you were expecting a handshake.

And I found out, not only did she could to our city, but was here a couple days teaching a workshop at Richard Hugo House (which I'm bummed I missed), going into our high schools and teaching poetry to the kids, and reading to us Tuesday night.  This is the kind of generous poet I love.  Her passion for poetry and words is in every breath.

If you get a chance to see her, do.  You won't be disappointed.  The evening/reading flew by.

Here's Patricia's website and a poem if you want to learn more about her.

Hip-Hop Ghazal

Gotta love us brown girls, munching on fat, swinging blue hips,
decked out in shells and splashes, Lawdie, bringing them woo hips.

As the jukebox teases, watch my sistas throat the heartbreak,
inhaling bassline, cracking backbone and singing thru hips.

Like something boneless, we glide silent, seeping 'tween floorboards,
wrapping around the hims, and ooh wee, clinging like glue hips.

Engines grinding, rotating, smokin', gotta pull back some.
Natural minds are lost at the mere sight of ringing true hips.

Gotta love us girls, just struttin' down Manhattan streets
killing the menfolk with a dose of that stinging view. Hips.

Crying 'bout getting old—Patricia, you need to get up off
what God gave you. Say a prayer and start slinging. Cue hips.



  1. Hi Kells: I was fortunate to hear Patricia Smith read at AWP/Denver last year. Her reading was extraordinary and her generosity at her booksigning, inspiring. I still carry her voice inside me. Thank you for sharing Smith's poetry in your blog. --Wendy

  2. What a pleasure to read Smith's ghazal here. She must be such a delight to see read/perform.

  3. Kelli,

    Thank you SO much (and thanks Wendy and Maureen)! The audience in Seattle was extraordinary--it made me remember how wonderful it is to do what we do.


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