Reading Patricia Smith’s Blood Dazzler during the horrible floods in Louisiana (unnamed, but devastating; already more than a dozen people have died and thousands have been forced from their homes) gave the collection an awful resonance.
Blood Dazzler is a polyphonic testament both to the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina and to the power of poetry. Ms. Smith’s poems are beautifully constructed in a wide range of forms; the poems’ subjects include nursing home residents who drowned, the head of FEMA, a dog left behind by its owners to ride out the storm, and even Katrina herself. It’s an unforgettable collection, and I highly recommend it.
You can read one of the collection’s two poems named “Katrina” here, as well as listen to Ms. Smith read it. You’ll hear the menace of the storm, a menace that begins in one of Blood Dazzler‘s early poems (“5 P.M., Tuesday, August 23, 2005”):
I console myself with small furies,
those dips in my dawning system. I pull in
a bored breath. The brine shivers.