Hannah Tucker
September 22, 2006 AT 04:00 AM EDT

There seems to be nothing Patricia Smith can’t write a poem about. John Lee Hooker, the word anemone, a son who ghost-writes love letters for his fellow prison inmates — her inspirations are various and dazzling. ”Let me feed on glory and grow fat,” she writes to a lover in ”Map Rappin’.” ”Let’s fill this wicked church with music.” Smith approaches the themes of love, family, and violence through accessible, graceful language in Teahouse of the Almighty and often praises her subjects — which include a murdered girl and a father with ”dimming and lying eyes, joints that smell thunder” — with a simple ”hallelujah.”

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