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Danez Smith
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Danez Smith

Danez Smith was born in St. Paul, Minnesota. They are the author of Don't Call Us Dead (2017), [insert] boy (2014), winner of the Lambda Literary Award and the Kate Tufts Discovery Award, as well as two chapbooks.

Of Smith's first book, Jericho Brown writes, "The poems of [insert] boy have need of the body – desire it and lament its mortality – but over and again they assert Smith's seemingly religious belief that every sound the body makes, every word and wail, is only possible through connection to some other plane of existence."

In an interview with Rigoberto Gonzalez for the National Book Critics Circle blog, Smith said:

What we mark as 'taboo' is reality for many, so the necessity to write what I know to be normal and what is queered by the world lies in the urge to normalize these stories of complicated desires and sex work. I've never been one for assimilation, it gives me the creeps, so I'm giving these experiences over to the page to expand the world until it can more adequately accommodate me.

Mary Austin Speaker called Smith's chapbook Black Movie, "a cinematic tour-de-force that lets poetry vie with film for the honor of which medium can most effectively articulate the experience of Black America."

                                                                   No chicken jokes in this movie.
No bullets in the heroes. & no one kills the black boy. & no one kills
the black boy. & no one kills the black boy. Besides, the only reason
I want to make this is for that first scene anyway: the little black boy
on the bus with a toy dinosaur, his eyes wide & endless

                                                   his dreams possible, pulsing, & right there.

Smith is a founding member of the multigenre, multicultural Dark Noise Collective.  In 2011, Smith was an Individual World Poetry Slam finalist, and in 2014,  the festival director for the Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Slam. They are the recipient of fellowships from the McKnight Foundation, Cave Canem, Voices of Our Nation (VONA), the National Endowment for the Arts, the Poetry Foundation, and  elsewhere.

Don't Call Us Dead was nominated for a National Book Award 2017 and from this book the poem 'summer, somewhere' was awarded the Four Quartets Prize, presented by the T.S. Eliot Foundation and the Poetry Society of America.

© PoetryFoundation.org

Bibliography
Don't Call Us Dead, Graywolf Press, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 2017
Black Movie, Button Poetry, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 2015 (chapbook)
[insert] boy, YesYes Books, Portland, Oregon, 2014
Hands on ya knees, Penmanship Publishing, Brooklyn, New York, 2013 (chapbook)

Links
'summer, somewhere' read by Danez Smith
'Tonight, in Oakland' read by Danez Smith
POETRY magazine podcast for January 2016 discussing 'summer, somewhere' by Danez Smith
POETRY magazine podcast for March 2014 discussing 'alternate names for black boys' by Danez Smith
Poetry Off the Shelf with Danez Smith and Brian Russell: 'The Language of Violence'
'Everything Black Folks Do Is Excellent' by Danez Smith, Huffington Post
'A Plea' by Danez Smith, Southern Humanities Review
National Book Critics Circle Award blog interview Danez Smith, by Rigoberto González
Interview at Divedapper
Review at Lambda Literary
Interview at Lambda Literary
Interview at The Conversant

 




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