A National Poetry Series winner, chosen by Edward Sanders.
“What power. Smith’s poetry is all poetry. And visceral. Her poems get under the skin of their subjects. Their passion and empathy, their real worldliness, are blockbuster.”—Marvin Bell
“I was weeping for the beauty of poetry when I reached the end of the final poem.”—Edward Sanders, National Poetry Series judge
From Lollapalooza to Carnegie Hall, Patricia Smith has taken the stage as this nation’s premier performance poet. Featured in the film Slamnation and on the HBO series Def Poetry Jam, Smith is back with her first book in over a decade—a National Poetry Series winner weaving passionate, bluesy narratives into an empowering, finely tuned cele-bration of poetry’s liberating power.
"[A] rich, dense feast of poetry."Hazel and Wren
Smith appears to be that rarest of creatures, a charismatic slam and performance poet whose artistry truly survives on the printed page. Present at the creation of the slam in early-’80s Chicago and included in seminal films and anthologies, Smith (Big Towns, Big Talk, 1992) receded from the scene in recent years after her career as a newspaper journalist ended in scandal. This National Poetry Serieswinning volume marks a triumphal return, showing an energetic writer with four urgent subjects. She depicts endangered children. She celebrates sex and sexuality, from the public display of celebrities to the power of the female orgasm: Don’t hate me because I’m multiple.’ She considers the heritage of black American art, in musical performance and in writing. Finally, she describes the experience of performance itself, with all its pride and embarrassment: Angry, jubilant, weeping poets we are all/ saviors, reluctant hosannas in the limelight.’ Several poems also animate the troubled lives of famous blues singers; elsewhere, a mother considers how her incarcerated son became a jailhouse scribe.’ A superb variety of lines and formsshort and long, hesitant and rapid-firegives the book additional depth. Smith even offers fine advice: Breathe/ like your living depends on it.’” Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Smith writes the way Tina Turner sings.” E. Ethelbert Miller
Teahouse of the Almighty is searing, honest, well-crafted, and full of the real world transformed by Patricia Smith’s fine ear for nuance and the shaking of the soul’s duties. I was weeping for the beauty of poetry when I reached the end of the final poem.”
Edward Sanders, National Poetry Series judge
What power. Smith’s poetry is all poetry. And visceral. Her poems get under the skin of their subjects. Their passion and empathy, their real worldliness, are blockbuster.” Marvin Bell
Not many poets will make you laugh out loud, grow uneasily warm with the recognition of self, sit riveted by the sheer shock of contending with human suffering, and feel as if you are alone with her as she tells her stories. But not many poets are Patricia Smith and not many books are as delightful and moving as her splendid Teahouse of the Almighty. Her secret is an absolute comfort in her own voiceher poems arrive with assurance and force.” Kwame Dawes
These poems are so fierce and tender, so unflinching, so loud and exquisite, so carefully crafted, so important, so right-on. They can make you gasp, rage, weep, belly-laugh, throw your arms open to them and the worlds they contain, push away or punch at the wrongs they chronicle. They bear such terrible beauty. Brava to Miss Patricia Smith, who pulls poems from the center of the earth.” Elizabeth Alexander