Don't Call Us Dead: Poems (Paperback)
It’s relentless. Danez Smith is black and queer and sick and sexy, and the poems keep you firmly under that swirling water; you have to learn to breathe the way Smith breathes, or close the book and admit defeat. The title poem introduces us to the paradise for killed black boys, then promptly disinvites us. Later, Smith rejects Earth “in search of darker planets.” All throughout these pages, black boys walk up to the edges of death, sometimes get pushed in. When they come back, they come back changed. -Lauren— From Fall Booknotes 2017
September 2017 Indie Next List
“Danez Smith has a remarkable talent for distilling disparate experiences and emotions into powerful and provocative images. His poems tackle the complexities of being young, black, and HIV-positive. He is a keen observer of the human condition, and his words express with urgency the need to understand one another. I loved this collection, and I'm so glad that this born-and-bred St. Paul poet is getting the recognition his talents so richly deserve.”
— Matt Keliher, SubText Books, St. Paul, MN
Finalist for the National Book Award for Poetry
" Smith's] poems are enriched to the point of volatility, but they pay out, often, in sudden joy."--The New Yorker
Award-winning poet Danez Smith is a groundbreaking force, celebrated for deft lyrics, urgent subjects, and performative power. Don't Call Us Dead opens with a heartrending sequence that imagines an afterlife for black men shot by police, a place where suspicion, violence, and grief are forgotten and replaced with the safety, love, and longevity they deserved here on earth. Smith turns then to desire, mortality--the dangers experienced in skin and body and blood--and a diagnosis of HIV positive. "Some of us are killed / in pieces," Smith writes, "some of us all at once." Don't Call Us Dead is an astonishing and ambitious collection, one that confronts, praises, and rebukes America--"Dear White America"--where every day is too often a funeral and not often enough a miracle.
About the Author
Danez Smith is the author of [insert] boy, winner of the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry and the Kate Tufts Discovery Award. Smith has received fellowships from the McKnight Foundation and the Poetry Foundation, and lives in Minneapolis.