Friday, April 23, 2010

Poetry Slam Champ Patricia Smith to Perform at Rose O'Neill Literary House

CHESTERTOWN—Patricia Smith, four-time champion of the National Poetry Slam and a National Book Award finalist, will bring her powerful writing and dynamic performance style to the Rose O’Neill Literary House at Washington College Tuesday, April 27 for a 5 p.m. reading.

In addition to her renown as the most successful slammer ever in the national competition, Smith has been lauded for the emotional impact and lyrical beauty of her published works. Her latest book, Blood Dazzler (Coffee House Press), a collection of poems that chronicle the devastation left by Hurricane Katrina, was a finalist for the 2008 National Book Award and was named one of National Public Radio’s Top 5 books of 2008. Reviewers have described Blood Dazzler as “a fierce, blood-in-the mouth collection” with the “whiff and feel of folklore,” and as a narrative of a shameful tragedy that is “lyrical and beautiful, like a hymn we want to sing over and over until it lives in our collective memory.”

Her four previous books are Teahouse of the Almighty (Coffee House), which was included in the National Poetry Series and won the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award in Poetry, Close to Death (Zoland Books), Big Towns, Big Talk (Zoland), and Life According to Motown (Tia Chucha). Her poem “The Way Pilots Walk” won a 2008 Pushcart Prize. In addition to her poetry, Smith has published a companion book for the PBS documentary "Africans in America" and a children’s book titled Janna and the Kings.

While in Chestertown, Smith also will join two Washington College faculty members for a special workshop for students at Kent County High School. It will be the culmination of a “Spoken Word Assembly” project that Literary House director Mark Nowak and Robert Earl Price, a lecturer in creative writing and drama, have conducted for a group of about 30 KCHS students who have shown special interest and talent in poetry. For more information on Smith, visit

The Tuesday reading at Washington College is free and open to the public. The Literary House is located at 407 Washington Avenue in Chestertown.

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