Patricia Smith is one of the most powerful voices in American poetry, the author of eight books of poetry, most recently INCENDIARY ART (Bloodaxe Books, UK, 2019; TriQuarterly, USA, 2017), winner of the 2018 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award and the 2017 Los Angeles Times Book Prize. INCENDIARY ART confronts the tyranny against the black male body and the tenacious grief of the mothers of murdered African American men. Dynamic sequences, including a compelling chronicle of the devastating murder of Emmett Till, serve as a backdrop for present-day racial calamities and calls for resistance. With impassioned eloquence and a sharpened focus on incidents of national mayhem and mourning, Patricia Smith reinvents the role of witness with an incendiary fusion of forms, including prose poems, ghazals, sestinas and sonnets. This phenomenal, visionary book addresses what is frightening, and what is revelatory, about history now.
Neil Astley filmed her reading a selection of poems from INCENDIARY ART in Ireland in April 2019 when she was in Galway for Cúirt International Festival of Literature. The poems she reads in this video are: ‘Incendiary Art’, ‘No Wound of Exit’, an extract from ‘Sagas of the Accidental Saint’ (‘That’s my son collapsed there…’), ‘Incendiary Art: Ferguson’, ’That Chile Emmett in That Casket’, ’The Mother Dares Make Love Again, After’, ’And He Stays Dead’, ’Incendiary Art: The Body’, and ‘Runaway’. For more details see bloodaxebooks.com/ecs/product/incendiary-art-1206