patricia smith blood dazzler analysisPosted on October 8th, 2020
“Persona” derives from the Latin “personae,” or mask, and while the Poetry Foundation’s entry cites Robert Browning, Linda Bierds, and John Berryman, when I read Smith, I also think of the poet Ai and her persona poems, described by Major Jackson as “often disturbing dramatic monologues in the voice of public figures, famous celebrities, murderers, and everyday people.” [“Assuming the Mask: Persona and Identity in Ai’s Poetry”]. Blood Dazzler has the power to inspire widespread change. Change ), You are commenting using your Twitter account. Blood Dazzler is an accessible, emotional collection that could easily appeal to a mainstream audience and encourage necessary social change. This confluence of storm and new birth perhaps renders Katrina a more compelling narrative to me than to others likewise unaffected by the storm due to distance or privilege (or both), but because of this personal connection, almost every August I reread Patricia Smith’s inimitable Blood Dazzler, a book of poems published in 2007 and nominated for a National Book Award.
She tells Moira Richards in an interview: “I’m not from New Orleans, I have no relatives in New Orleans, I have no connection at all to the region. ”Out of the maelstrom of the Slam, Patricia Smith conjures a harsh and elegant poetry in Blood Dazzler. The third of five poems taking their name from a time and date marking the storm’s progression, “5 P.M., Thursday, August 25, 2005,” addresses the moment the tropical storm is upgraded to Hurricane Katrina. Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Both of these poems leave the reader wondering how the richest government in the world could allow so many of its poor residents to die.
Patricia Smith’s Blood Dazzler is an impossible to make action movie, cleverly disguised as a collection of poems. Currently a 2019 Fellow at The Writers Grotto, Amanda is a high school teacher and Marin Poetry Center Board member, and she lives by the beach in the Outer Sunset neighborhood of San Francisco with her husband and daughter. This city steeped in hedonism is drunk on herself, blissfully ignorant that any force can destroy her. Change ). Learn how your comment data is processed. Deeper than just imbuing nonhuman objects and entities with human characteristics and actions, personification also powerfully gives literal life to abstractions. While they enact actions and feelings, Katrina isn’t doing anything; she’s just “their odd sister, / the blood dazzler.” In an interview with Jon Riccio on the Volta Blog, Smith explains how she used “blood dazzler” as “a placeholder,” intending to come back with a more suitable phrase when the right inspiration hit. The Gulf region is prone to hurricanes. Readers suspicious of her performance pedigree will note the formal ingenuity, whether sonnet, tanka, or collage. The poem’s layout on the page feels a bit like a hurricane beginning to organize itself, with two wider stanzas of longer lines tapering into a single smaller, shorter-lined stanza at the end. “In Late Summer” opens with a vivid image that, for me, captures the essence of August in New England. The biggest contributing factor to Blood Dazzler’s accessibility is the chronological narrative that gives the collection a plot. In minute-by-minute detail, Patricia Smith tracks Hurricane Katrina as it transforms into a full-blown mistress of destruction. Patricia Smith: The physical destruction was to be expected. While Katrina makes landfall and unrepentantly obliterates everything in her path, Smith uses a wide variety of speakers—ranging from a family dog to George W. Bush—to provide many layers of perspective on Hurricane Katrina and its aftereffects. The poems in Blood Dazzler present voices never heard on the news during the coverage of Hurricane Katrina, voices not usually part of such reports but which reflect the human side of tragedy.
Patricia Smith (born 1955) is an American poet, spoken-word performer, playwright, author, writing teacher, and former journalist.She has published poems in literary magazines and journals including TriQuarterly, Poetry, The Paris Review, Tin House, and in anthologies including American Voices and The Oxford Anthology of African-American Poetry. In those poems, Smith animates a literal force of nature to create a compelling character whose narrative complicates and deepens conventional notions of hurricanes. But there was a damning psychological undercurrent with more strength than any storm. Patricia Smith’s collection of poems, Blood Dazzler, breaks through this apathy to bring the full weight of Hurricane Katrina’s impact front and center.
At the root of it was the fact that most of the people affected by Hurricane Katrina were poor and black, a fact that – in the eyes of many – made the tragedy much less important. These innocents progress from stubborn and unconcerned residents in Katrina’s infancy to dead or violated victims who have nothing left in the world by Katrina’s exit. She received her MFA from Cornell University, where she served as Managing Editor for EPOCH magazine and was a lecturer in the John S. Knight Writing Institute. Blood Dazzler effectively uses its speakers to show racial and class-related injustices.
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