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Incendiary Art: Poems

4.73  ·  Rating details ·  154 ratings  ·  28 reviews
Winner, NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work in the Poetry category 
Winner, 2018 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award
Winner, 2018 BLACA Best Poetry Award
Finalist, Neustadt International Prize for Literature
Finalist, 2017 Los Angeles Times Book Prize
Winner, Abel Meeropol Award for Social Justice

One of the most magnetic and e
Paperback, 144 pages
Published February 15th 2017 by Triquarterly
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Average rating 4.73  · 
Rating details
 ·  154 ratings  ·  28 reviews

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John Madera
Apr 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Remarkable book, alternately harrowing, elegiac, provocative, and inspirational, the series of poems reflecting on the Emmett Till's death and its aftermath, and its continuing legacy, particularly masterfully crafted.
Scott Neuffer
Jan 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
It's exciting to know someone still writes poetry like this--explosive in image and form, utterly alive, full-bodied, bursting from the page with vital social importance. Every American should read this collection. A harrowing, heartwrenching experience.
Nov 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Wow. Deeply emotional, honest, and a tear-jerker. I read this in all one sitting, and I’m not looking forward to having to return it to the library.
I really loved this sorrowful, enraging collection of poetry. Patricia Smith has such a way with words, every poem was incredibly tight and strong.
Jan 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The virtuosity of this masterful collection, by turns stunning and devastating, finds its apotheosis in sequences, especially a series of poems scattered throughout the book that turn the story of Emmett Till into a Choose Your Own Adventure. There's a dolorous charm in this, the way it warps time, allows us to imagine other possible outcomes of that story, before leaving us with a profound sense of history's immutability: what happened to Till is what will always be what happened to him; what m ...more
Mar 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
I loved her twists and turns of language and her usage and melding of the present and past. There's a section of poems regarding the deaths of Blacks at the hands of police which was moving, difficult to read, and still leaving an impression on me well after I've finished reading her book.
Prince Bush
Oct 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Patricia Smith does more than deliver a package; she brings the black experience to your front door, knocks, and waits for you to answer. Once you do, she sits you down and brings your heart to your feet. Everything about this collection of poetry screams story and read me after this. The beginning and middle takes you through a forest of injustice, then a unique but all too familiar black childhood, and then a prayer. The reader will find themselves at the end not praying to God, but to Smith. ...more
Henry Cansler
Feb 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This amazing book was filled with mind blowing, moving, and inspired poems. I enjoyed the book so much because of how I loved each poem more the sixth or seventh time read rather that the first couple times were I had little understanding. I thought that reading this during February, black history month, made the book even better. I was listening to story behind the poems I had just read everywhere: school, home, and the television. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves high-vocabulary ...more
D.A. Gray
Jul 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A powerful book, both for its craft and its conscience. Each poem is a lesson on how to respond to history, and to current events, how to let one's conscience read through the false narrative presented by those who would like to ignore the darkest parts of the American experience. Patricia Smith is a treasure.
Apr 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
One of the most searingly lyric and urgent books of poetry I have ever read in my life. Patricia Smith's poems take on, in full measure, the legacy and immediacy of the abuse of Black people by the police, and the toll this takes on the survivors. An unflinching and relentlessly inventive and lyric collection of poems that stand witness and testify. I would consider this book essential reading for all Americans.
Dec 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Mesmerizing. Beautiful. Lyrical. Powerful. Brutal. An honor.

Oct 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
This collection was first introduction to Patricia Smith and one of my first engagements with a full collection of contemporary poetry by a single author. This collection made me an instant fan of Smith herself as well as sparking further interest to explore more contemporary poems. Her language is refreshingly straightforward whilst still containing much elegance, spirit, and feverish emotion. Reading this allowed forces me to put it down consistently - the writing so effortless blends the beautiful ...more
May 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I am so very glad I read these poems. These poems are powerful and grieving and true. They are poems about Emmitt Till, about the poet’s father, about Michael Brown, about black men and women who have been killed (many of them, but not all by police officers), and fathers who killed their children. These poems crackle and blaze throwing sparks into my heart and mind. Wow. Across nine pages late in the book she has an 8 word sentence that repeats. In 72 words she does a better job of communicati ...more
Thomas Stama
Jul 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
This is my second reading of this work since it came out last year. Timely subject.

We as a nation should read this volume and ponder the reality African Americans are facing.

I cannot say enough about the poetry of Patricia Smith!!! Have been following her works since 1991. I believe she is our greatest living poet in the United States of America. She is right up there with Robert Frost and Maya Angelou.
Preston Stell
I was expecting to love this. I didn’t. I’m not sure why, but I am fairly certain the issue of understanding and enjoyment is my own. Patricia Smith is genius poet, I just wasn’t feeling it I guess...and this bums me out.
Michael Ferraro
Feb 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Bracing, bitter, brazen, bullet blasts to the brain. Smith writes with heart and passion, yet also with cool, profound detachment, with numb irony and surreal, savage sarcasm. Her poetry exposes the raw wounds that America prefers to ignore, redressing crimes of humanity with grace and fury.
Sep 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Mar 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I don't typically read poetry, so I'm not sure how to evaluate this in context, but it made me feel along with making me think and it seems like that's a big part of what makes poetry good.
Sep 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: home-library
I can't give this as many stars as it deserves, because it merits many more than 5. Deeply ethical, urgent, clear-eyed, and artful. The world needs this book and Patricia Smith.
Jan 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018-reads
3.5 stars
Mills College Library
811.54 S6563i 2017
Casey Marie
Oct 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Heartfelt, raw, dark, visceral and so much more - Smith really brings important issues to light like police brutality, racism, death, gun violence just to name a few. We read this for my poetry class and then she visited my school and for as many poems as I love in this poem, Patricia Smith herself is a powerhouse of a reader/poet. A+++ Please read it through and through
Oct 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
If you can get through this without crying, I'd say you'd better have your humanity checked. Extraordinary. Where is the secret button to add five more stars?
Kate Kosek
Oct 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
powerful and sad
Aug 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018-reads
Crucial reading, beautiful art.
bklyn mike art
Nov 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
social justice poetry. powerful & relevant.
rated it it was amazing
Mar 23, 2018
Anthony Evers
rated it it was amazing
Dec 24, 2017
rated it it was amazing
Aug 18, 2017
rated it it was amazing
May 27, 2019
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Called “a testament to the power of words to change lives,” Patricia Smith is a renaissance artist of unmistakable signature, recognized as a force in the fields of poetry, playwriting, fiction, performance and creative collaboration.