Kim Addonizio

writer musicmaker maquisard

Kim Addonizio is the author of six poetry collections, two novels, two story collections, and two books on writing poetry, The Poet’s Companion (with Dorianne Laux) and Ordinary Genius. She has received fellowships from the NEA and Guggenheim Foundation, two Pushcart Prizes, and was a National Book Award Finalist for her collection Tell Me. Her latest books are Mortal Trash: Poems (W.W. Norton) and a memoir-in-essays, Bukowski in a Sundress (Penguin). She recently collaborated on a chapbook, The Night Could Go in Either Direction (Slapering Hol Press) with poet Brittany Perham. Addonizio also has two word/music CDs:  Swearing, Smoking, Drinking, & Kissing (with Susan Browne) and My Black Angel, a companion to My Black Angel: Blues Poems & Portraits, featuring woodcuts by Charles D. Jones. She teaches and performs internationally

“The blues are the true facts of life.”
–Willie Dixon

My Black Angel features all the poems from the book My Black Angel: Blues Poems and Portraits, with woodcuts of musicians by Charles D. Jones. Most of the tracks feature various musicians including Houston-based guitar virtuosos Erich Avinger and Michael Mandrell, San Francisco guitarist Tarik Fawal, Jones on banjo, and Addonizio on harmonica. Country blues harmonica master Joe Filisko plays a spirited Fox Chase on "When Joe Filisko Plays the Blues," and vocalist Ruth Beck covers a song written by the presiding spirit of this collection, Lucille Bogan. On "Penis Blues," Jones, Mandrell, and Peter Kline lend their moans to the speaker's lament: "I miss the penis.  I feel like a word with no vowels; / no one wants to pronounce me." 

The peerless poetry of Kim Addonizio would be reason enough to grab My Black Angel.  These poems deliver her reliably remarkable clarity, edge and emotion. Add to that the breathtaking woodcuts of Charles D. Jones and you get a collaboration of lines carving light out of darkness, the textures of the blues. The plentiful pleasures of this book will rouse both your eyes and ears. Terrance Hayes


If you hear, like I do, Lady Day singing “Good Morning Heartache,” as you turn these pages heading toward a new poem by one of America’s best poets, then you are in the right precinct of feeling and intelligence. With as much casual anguish, resilience, and unrelenting beauty, Kim Addonizio writes as though human survival in the raw requires a moral refutation of existential melancholy.  The blues poem is her weapon, and arguably, like Langston Hughes, Sterling Brown and others since, Addonizio shows how the blues poem is truly about a magnificent affirmation of life rather than the sources of its sorrows. She proves once again, the blues is our first and distinct contribution to global poetry, and she plays them for a new world with a new sensibility. Major Jackson



I don't just hear the blues in these poems
I see the blues in these poems
I see myself in these poems
Of women in love
and out of luck
Of one legged men
wanting love
Of the homeless
the forgotten
the betrayed
the scorned
Of the beautiful and mighty
rising out of the dust
f faithful memories that hang on
and won't let go
And I close the book,
Lucinda Williams




Check out my rewrite & performance of Sonny Boy Williamson’s “Help Me” at the San Jose Fountain Blues Festival.Thanks to the Dan Goghs for backing me, & to Ted Gehrke for having the first poet ever.

BBC RADIO 3 BETWEEN THE EARS: SCHOOL FOR HARMONICAS – Listen to the show I presented, here.

Nonstop Beautiful Ladies with Peter Kline & Brittany Perham at the Beat Museum in San Francisco


My word/music CD with poet Susan Browne.

Performing with Gary Lilley and Sam Ligon at the Port Townsend Writers Conference.