Patricia Smith


Patricia Smith has been called “a testament to the power of words to change lives.” She is the author of seven books of poetry, including Incendiary Art (2017), winner of an NAACP Image Award and the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award; Shoulda Been Jimi Savannah (2012), which won the Lenore Marshall Prize from the Academy of American Poets; Blood Dazzler (2008), a chronicle of the human and environmental cost of Hurricane Katrina which was nominated for a National Book Award; and Teahouse of the Almighty, a 2005 National Poetry Series selection published by Coffee House Press. Smith collaborated with the photographer Michael Abramson on the book Gotta Go Gotta Flow: Life, Love, and Lust on Chicago’s South Side From the Seventies (2015). Her work has appeared in Poetry magazine, the Paris Review, the New York Times, TriQuarterly, Tin House, the Washington Post, and in both Best American Poetry and Best American Essays. Source  


What Betsy Has to Say

In 1965, Hurricane Betsy swept through the Bahamas and South Florida, then hit Louisiana coast, flooding New Orleans. During the four days of the storm, 75 people died.


No nuance. Got no whisper

in you, do you girl?


The idea was not

to stomp it flat, ‘trina,

all you had to do was kiss the land, 

brush your thunderous lips against it

and leave it stuttering, scared barren

at your very notion. Instead,


You roared through like

a [  ] man, all biceps and must, 

flinging your dreaded mane

and lifting souls up to feed your ravenous eye.


I thought I taught you better, girl. 

I showed you the right way to romance that city,

how to break its heart

and leave it pining for more of your slap.


So if this was your way of erasing me, 

turning me from rough lesson to raindrop,

you did it ugly, chile. Yeah, I truly enjoyed 


being God for that minute. But unlike you, 

rash gal, I left some of my signature standing. 

I only killed what got in my way.





Literary Movements:


Anthology Years:





Persona Poems

Poetic Form

Science & Climate


Literary Devices:


an expression designed to call something to mind without mentioning it explicitly; an indirect or passing reference


a short quotation or saying at the beginning of a book or chapter, intended to suggest its theme


the attribution of human qualities to a non-human thing

Rhetorical Question

a question asked for effect, not necessarily to be answered


a comparison between two unlike things using the words “like” or “as”