Books of April: Patricia Smith’s Blood Dazzler

Helpless and horrified, the readers of Blood Dazzler can do nothing to stop the impending trauma and destruction of Hurricane Katrina as she sets her one clear eye on the city of New Orleans. We know the ending of the story, which makes the retelling so much more terrifying: hospital patients abandoned, a sports facility putrefies with rot and human misery, a President flies over to survey the flood, a lone dog fights to survive the storm, and everyone, people die or nearly die.

While the scope of Blood Dazzler is almost Biblical in theme, this tightly-constructed sequence of poems is a good primer for writing long-form poems (both long poems and narratives that elapse over several shorter pieces). Blood Dazzler is narrated in persona by first-person witnesses, be they pets, people, buildings, or the storm itself. Amid these threads, Smith–with both unflinching honesty and relentless regularity–knots a universal story of grief, misery, and anger that indicts those who did not act, and memorializes those who did.

For April: A Book A Day

This month, rather than writing a poem every day, I’m going to blog about a book of poetry that has been important to me, or that I’ve really admired.

First up: Mathias Svalina’s Destruction Myth, a brilliant sequence of poems that continually rewrite “Creation Myth”s, finished off with one big, cataclysmic “Destruction Myth.”

A longer review of this book is forthcoming elsewhere, so I won’t say much more, except to say how much I admire Mathias’s use of an interplay between absurdity and sincerity.