Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Patricia Smith  

Pen Name: None

Genre: Fiction Poetry

Audience: Adult; Children;

Born: 1955 in Chicago, Illinois

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Illinois Connection

Smith was born and raised in Chicago. She attended Southern Illinois University and Northwestern University.

Biographical and Professional Information

Patricia Smith is an author, journalist and poet. She is four-time national individual champion of the notorious and wildly popular National Poetry Slam. A professor for the City University of New York and a Cave Canem faculty member, she lives in New Jersey.


Teahouse of the Almighty

National Poetry Series Selection, 2005

Paterson Poetry Prize, 2007

Best poetry book, 2006

Janna and the Kings

Lee & Low Books New Voices Award

The Way Pilots Walk (poem)

Pushcart Prize

Big Towns, Big Talk

Carl Sandburg Literary Award

Finalist, Pulitzer Prize, 1998

Incendiary Art

Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, 2018

NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work in the Poetry

Finalist, Neustadt International Prize for Literature

Finalist, Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, 2018

Los Angeles Times Book Prize, 2017

BCALA Best Poetry Award, 2018

Abel Meeropol Award for Social Justice

Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, 2021

Shoulda Been Jimi Savannah

Lenore Marshall Prize, Academy of American Poets

Wheatley Book Award in Poetry, 2013

Finalist, William Carlos Williams Award, 2013

Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry, 2014

Blood Dazzler

Nominated, National Book Award

Body of Work

International Literary Hall of Fame for Writers of African Descent, 2006

Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, Poetry Foundation, 2021

Four-time individual champion, National Poetry Slam

Women in Communications Award

Sigma Delta Chi Award

United Press International Award

Speaking Engagements

Speaking Engagement Availability (Yes)

Selected Titles At Your Library

Big towns, big talk /
ISBN: 0944072240. OCLC Number: 25915357

Zoland Books,. .

Blood dazzler :
ISBN: 156689218X. OCLC Number: 213480221

Coffee House Press,. .

In minute-by-minute detail, Patricia Smith tracks Hurricane Katrina as it transforms into a full-blown mistress of destruction. From August 23, 2005, the day Tropical Depression Twelve developed, through August 28 when it became a Category Five storm with its "scarlet glare fixed on the trembling crescent," to the heartbreaking aftermath, these poems evoke the horror that unfolded in New Orleans as America watched it on television. Assuming the voices of flailing politicians, the dying, their survivors, and the voice of the hurricane itself, Smith follows the woefully inadequate relief effort and stands witness to families held captive on rooftops and in the Superdome. She gives voice to the thirty-four nursing home residents who drowned in St. Bernard Parish and recalls the day after their deaths when George W. Bush accompanied country singer Mark Willis on guitar: The cowboy grins through the terrible din, *** And in the Ninth, a choking woman wails Look like this country done left us for dead. An unforgettable reminder that poetry can still be "news that stays news," Blood Dazzler is a necessary step toward national healing.

Close to death /
ISBN: 0944072356. OCLC Number: 28257280

Zoland Books,. .

Poems that amplify the voices and souls of black men at various stages of their lives, men who always feel as if they are "C2D," close to death.

Incendiary art :
ISBN: 0810134330. OCLC Number: 948340216

. .

"One of the most magnetic and esteemed poets in today's literary landscape, Patricia Smith fearlessly confronts the tyranny against the black male body and the tenacious grief of mothers in her compelling new collection, Incendiary Art. She writes an exhaustive lament for mothers of the "dark magicians," and revisits the devastating murder of Emmett Till. These dynamic sequences serve as a backdrop for present-day racial calamities and calls for resistance. Smith embraces elaborate and eloquent language - "her gorgeous fallen son a horrid hidden / rot. Her tiny hand starts crushing roses - one by one / by one she wrecks the casket's spray. It's how she / mourns - a mother, still, despite the roar of thorns"--As she sharpens her unerring focus on incidents of national mayhem and mourning. Smith envisions, reenvisions, and ultimately reinvents the role of witness with an incendiary fusion of forms, including prose poems, ghazals, sestinas, and sonnets. With poems impossible to turn away from, one of America's most electrifying writers reveals what is frightening, and what is revelatory, about history"

Janna and the kings
ISBN: 9781620142530. OCLC Number: 49583388

. .

Janna loves the Saturday visits that she and her grandfather make to the local barbershop where she becomes a princess, but after he dies, Janna feels as though her world has changed.

Life according to Motown /
ISBN: 0962428728. OCLC Number: 23082856

Tía Chucha Press ;. .

Shoulda been Jimi Savannah :
ISBN: 1566892996. OCLC Number: 744560335

. .

"In her newest collection, Patricia Smith explores the second wave of the Great Migration. Shifting from spoken word to free verse to traditional forms, she reveals 'that soul beneath the vinyl'."

Teahouse of the almighty :
ISBN: 1566891930. OCLC Number: 65978665

Coffee House Press,. .

A collection of poems by Patricia Smith that explore the emotions that shape human life.