Patricia Smith moved to Boston in 1991 after participating in the burgeoning days of the poetry slam in its native Chicago and competing in the inaugural National Poetry Slam, where she won the first of four individual championships. She is credited with co-founding the Boston Poetry Slam at the Bookseller Cafe, just before the whole shazam moved to the Cantab Lounge during the 1992 National Slam hosted by Boston. Host, local slam champion, and knockout writer, Patricia left Boston in 1998, but she has returned regularly to feature at the show. She was an honored guest at the 2011 National Poetry Slam.
Patricia Smith is the author of six books of poetry, including Shoulda Been Jimi Savannah, winner of the 2013 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize from the Academy of American Poets and the Phillis Wheatley Award, and finalist for the William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America and the Balcones Prize. She also authored Blood Dazzler, a finalist for the National Book Award, and Teahouse of the Almighty, a National Poetry Series selection.
Her work has appeared in Poetry, The Paris Review, The New York Times, TriQuarterly, Tin House, The Washington Post, and in both Best American Poetry and Best American Essays. Her contribution to the crime fiction anthology Staten Island Noir won the Robert L. Fish Award from the Mystery Writers of America for the best debut story of the year and was chosen for Best American Mystery Stories 2013.
A 2012 fellow at both MacDowell and Yaddo, she is also a two-time Pushcart Prize winner, recipient of a Lannan fellowship and a four-time individual champion of the National Poetry Slam, the most successful poet in the competition’s history. Patricia has performed around the world, including Carnegie Hall, the Poets Stage in Stockholm, Rotterdam’s Poetry International, the Aran Islands International Poetry and Prose Festival, the Bahia Festival, the Schomburg Center, the Sorbonne in Paris and on tour in Germany, Austria and Holland. She has shared the stage with Adrienne Rich, Sharon Olds, Allen Ginsburg, Walter Mosley, Joyce Carol Oates, Gwendolyn Brooks and Galway Kinnell. She performed the original poem “Awakening” at the 1991 inauguration of former Mayor Richard Daley in Chicago. Aside from being the most successful competitor in slam history, she was also featured in the nationally-released film “Slamnation,” and appeared on the award-winning HBO series “Def Poetry Jam.”
She is currently working on a book of short stories, a poetry volume combining text and 19th century African-American photos, and a libretto for City Steam, a celebration of the re-opening of Philadelphia’s Dilworth Plaza. Patricia is a professor at the College of Staten Island and an instructor in the MFA program at Sierra Nevada College, where she recently served as Distinguished Visiting Professor in the Humanities. She is married to Bruce DeSilva, the Edgar Award-winning author of the Liam Mulligan crime novels. She lectures, reads, and teaches around the world and can be reached for booking through her personal website.