Synopses & Reviews
"Patricia Smith is writing some of the best poetry in America today. Ms Smiths new book, Shoulda Been Jimi Savannah
, is just beautiful—and like the America she embodies and represents—dangerously beautiful. Shoulda Been Jimi Savannah
is a stunning and transcendent work of art, despite, and perhaps because of, its pain. This book shines." Sapphire
"One of the best poets around and has been for a long time." Terrance Hayes
"Smith's work is direct, colloquial, inclusive, adventuresome." Gwendolyn Brooks
In her newest collection, Patricia Smith explores the second wave of the Great Migration. Shifting from spoken word to free verse to traditional forms, she reveals "that soul beneath the vinyl."
Patricia Smith is the author of five volumes of poetry, including Blood Dazzler, a finalist for the 2008 National Book Award, and Teahouse of the Almighty, a National Poetry Series selection. She lives in New Jersey.
"In her title poem, Smith describes her mother and father debating what to call her. Smith's mother bestowed on the poet a name fitting for a woman that would 'never idly throat the Lord's name or wear one/ of those thin, sparkled skirts that flirted with her knees./ She'd be a nurse or a third-grade teacher or a postal drone,/ jobs requiring alarm-clock discipline and sensible shoes.' But her father, though acquiescing, secretly called her Jimi Savannah, embodying 'the blues-bathed moniker of a ball breaker, the name/ of a grown gal in a snug red sheath and unlaced All-stars.' This duality bursts forth in her poems about growing up on Chicago's West Side, the place that lured her parents from Alabama promising a better life. The collection builds momentum with vivid, high-textured city scenes. 'The city squared its teeth,' she writes and 'smiled oil'; the chicken shack's 'slick cuisine served up in virgin white cardboard boxes with Tabasco/ nibbling the seams.' Motown saturates the language and weaves itself into Smith's narratives. Focusing on the stinging memories of growing up black and a woman during the 1960s, one could overlook Smith's mastery of rhyme rhythm and form, but it runs like an electric current throughout the collection. (May)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
National Book Award finalist Patricia Smith chronicles the Great Migration through Motown music and Chicago streets.
About the Author
Patricia Smith is the author of five volumes of poetry, including Blood Dazzler, a finalist for the 2008 National Book Award, and Teahouse of the Almighty, a National Poetry Series selection. She is also the author of the history Africans in America and the award-winning children's book Janna and the Kings. She is a professor at the City University of New York, and lives in New Jersey with her husband Bruce DeSilva, granddaughter Mikaila, and two dogs, Brady and Rondo.