Printer Friendly

Teahouse of the Almighty.

Teahouse of the Almighty By Patricia Smith Coffee House Press, September 2006 $15, ISBN 1-566-89193-0

The last time I ate hot-water cornbread, my great-grandmother was still alive and complaining about the stench the burn of the bread made. I had not remembered her cooking hot-water cornbread nor could I easily draw her into my memory until I read Patricia Smith's poem "When the Burning Begins" from her collection Teahouse of the Almighty. Smith, a 2005 National Poetry Series winner, is a storyteller in the truest sense. Her poems--although personal--allow readers to enter through our own recollections of shared experiences, desires and grievances.

What works best in this collection is the multiplicity of voice through which Smith exists as teacher, daughter, commentator and voyeur--often at the same time. In "When the Burning Begins," Smith writes: "Mix it till it looks like quicksand, he'd say. / Till it moves like a slow song sounds." Smith's poems capture the reader, pulls him into the very story they reveal. And in the beauty and sometimes horror of it all, they sound honeyed with "slow song sounds."

In poems such as "Building Nicole's Mama," "Boy Dies, Girlfriend Gets His Heart" and "Scribe," Smith plays with her readers sensibilities; there are well-orchestrated line breaks, the movements that occur in prose poems and the tension that is created between telling too much and not enough. But what the reader hears is the measure of Smith's work, which is nothing short of the same furious thunder Coltrane used to play--dramatic, harsh, melodic but always recognizable.

Lauri A. Conner is a poet and educator living in Seattle, Washington.
COPYRIGHT 2007 Cox, Matthews & Associates
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2007, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Conner, Lauri A.
Publication:Black Issues Book Review
Article Type:Book review
Date:Mar 1, 2007
Previous Article:Rhythmic poetry: master poet Nathaniel Mackey's language of rebellion.
Next Article:Splay Anthem.

Related Articles
The Textbook of TQ in Healthcare.
The Powell Principles: to become a more effective leader, check out Colin Powell's secrets. (Words to Strive By).
A Ravel Reader: Correspondence, Articles, Interviews.
A 'holy alliance'.
Teahouse of the Almighty.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2020 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters