Patricia Smith (poet)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Patricia Smith
Smith reading at the Library of Congress
Born 1955 (age 61–62)
Chicago, Illinois
Occupation Poet, spoken-word performer, playwright, author, writing teacher, journalist
Nationality American
Genre Poetry
Spouse Bruce DeSilva

Patricia Smith (born 1955 in Chicago, Illinois) is an American poet, spoken-word performer, playwright, author, writing teacher, and former journalist. She has published poems in literary magazines and journals including TriQuarterly, Poetry, The Paris Review, Tin House, and in anthologies including American Voices and The Oxford Anthology of African-American Poetry.[1] She is on the faculties of the Stonecoast MFA Program in Creative Writing[2] and the Low-Residency MFA Program in Creative Writing at Sierra Nevada College.[3]

She is a four-time individual National Poetry Slam champion and appeared in the 1996 documentary SlamNation, which followed various poetry slam teams as they competed at the 1996 National Poetry Slam in Portland, Oregon.



Smith's poetry has appeared in literary journals including The Paris Review and TriQuarterly, and dozens of anthologies, including The Oxford Anthology of African-American Poetry, The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry and Gathering Ground: A Reader Celebrating Cave Canem's First Decade.

She has read her poetry at venues including the Poets Stage in Stockholm, Urban Voices in South Africa, Rotterdam’s Poetry International Festival, the Aran Islands International Poetry and Prose Festival and on tour in Germany, Austria and Holland. In the U.S., she’s performed at the National Book Festival, Carnegie Hall, and the Dodge Poetry Festival.

The book Blood Dazzler was the basis for a dance/theater production which sold out a week-long series of performances at New York’s Harlem Stage.

A selection of Smith's poetry was produced as a one-woman play by Nobel Prize winner Derek Walcott and performed at both Boston University Playwrights Theater and the historic Trinidad Theater Workshop. Another play, based on Life According to Motown, was staged by Company One Theater in Hartford, Ct., and reviewed favorably in The New York Times.

Journalism controversy[edit]

As an editorial assistant at The Chicago Sun-Times in the late 1980s, she wrote a review of a concert that she had not attended.[4]

She gained notoriety when The Boston Globe asked her to resign after editors discovered her metro column contained fictional characters and fabricated events in violation of journalism practice.[5] Smith admitted to four instances of fabrications in her columns.[6]



Her book Shoulda Been Jimi Savannah was awarded the 2014 Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt Award.[7] She is also a 2008 National Book Award finalist, winner of the Hurston-Wright Legacy Award in Poetry, the Carl Sandburg Literary Award, the National Poetry Series award, the Patterson poetry award, two Pushcart prizes, and the Rattle poetry prize. She also won the Robert L. Fish Memorial Award for short story writing and had work selected to appear in both "Best American Poetry" and "Best American Essays." In 2006, she was inducted into the International Literary Hall of Fame for Writers of African Descent, and she was the recipient of both McDowell and Yadoo fellowships. And for "Shoulda Been Jimi Savannah," she won the Lenore Marshall Prize, presented by the Academy of American Poets in recognition of "the most outstanding book of poetry" published in America the previous year.


Smith won the Distinguished Writing Award for Commentary from the American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE), 1997. However, the Boston Globe returned the ASNE award and withdrew her from consideration for a Pulitzer Prize after the newspaper acknowledged that some of her columns contained fabricated people, events and quotes.[8]

Personal life[edit]

Smith is married to Bruce DeSilva, journalist and Edgar Award-winning author. She currently lives in Howell, New Jersey.


Poetry collections[edit]

  • Incendiary Art: Poems poems about Emmett Till, Northwestern University Press, 2016.
  • Smith, Patricia (2012). Shoulda been Jimi Savannah. Coffee House Press. [9]
  • Blood Dazzler - poems about Hurricane Katrina, Coffee House Press, 2008, a National Book Award finalist.
  • Teahouse of the Almighty - selected as a National Poetry Series winner, published in 2006 by Coffee House Press
  • Close to Death - poetry, 1993, Zoland Books
  • Big Towns, Big Talk - poetry, 1992, Zoland Books
  • Life According to Motown - poetry, 1991, Tía Chucha Press

List of poems[edit]

Title Year First published Reprinted/collected
Laugh your trouble away 2011 Smith, Patricia (Fall–Winter 2011). "Laugh your trouble away". Sugar House Review. 5.  Smith, Patricia (2013). "Laugh your trouble away". In Henderson, Bill. The Pushcart Prize XXXVII : best of the small presses 2013. Pushcart Press. pp. 358–360. 


Children's books[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Table of contents for The Oxford anthology of African-American poetry". Retrieved 2017-02-07. 
  2. ^ "Faculty | Stonecoast MFA in Creative Writing | University of Southern Maine". Retrieved 2017-02-07. 
  3. ^ "Welcome to Sierra Nevada College, on the shores of Lake Tahoe". Sierra Nevada College. Retrieved 2017-02-07. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ Pogrebin, Robin (June 19, 1998). "Boston Columnist Is Ousted For Fabricated Articles". New York Times. Retrieved 20 July 2013. 
  6. ^ "Barnicle resigns from Globe. Fabrications found in 1995 column". August 19, 1998. Retrieved 20 July 2013. 
  7. ^ "Library of Congress Awards Patricia Smith the Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry, Feb. 17". December 22, 2014. 
  8. ^ O'Brien, Sinéad (September 1998). "Secrets And Lies". American Journalism Review. 
  9. ^ Poems about the second wave of the Great Migration; 2014 Bobbitt National Poetry Prize.

External links[edit]