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Danez Smith Books In Order

Publication Order of Poetry Books

Insert Boy (2014) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Black Movie (2015) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Don't Call Us Dead (2017) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Danez Smith is an American Black poet that made a name for himself writing highly evocative and award-winning poetry. Smith believes himself to be many persons and therefore loves to go by the pronoun “They”. They are the writer of one of the most crucially acclaimed collection of poems titled “[Insert] Boy” that won the 2017 Gay Poetry at the Lambda Literary Awards. His other popular collection “Don’t Call Us Dead” was a 2017 National Book Award finalist in 2017. Danez is a Minnesota born and raised native who went to Central High School before proceeding to the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he earned his bachelors as a First Wave Urban Arts Scholar. Even as the family is from Georgia and Mississippi, Danez is a holder of a Masters of Fine Arts that he attained from the University of Michigan.

Danez Smith has had a checkered career having together with Jamilla Woods, Aaron Samuels, Nate Marshall, Franny Choi, and Fatimah Asgar, founded the Dark Noise Collective. Together with his friend Jamilla Woods and Macklemore, the three went on Stephen Colbert’s “The Late Show” for a well-received performance. Smith’s writing has been on pretty much any of the acclaimed poetry magazines including “Ploughshares” and “Poetry Magazine”. In 2017, he was the University of Central Oklahoma’s inaugural guest at the Alexander Lawrence Speaker series. His award-winning novel “[Insert] Boy” has been described as morally urgent with surprising and nervy lines. Apart from his two very well-known novels he has also authored “Black Movie” that won the Button Poetry Award, and “Hands on Your Knees” another critically acclaimed chapbook. Danez has twice been nominated for Best Poet at the Individual World Poetry Slam and came very near to winning it when in 2014 he came in second. Alongside one of his best friends Franny Choi, he hosts the Poetry Foundation’s poetry podcast VS. In 2017, he was the winner of the Arts grant from the National Endowment Fund.”

[Insert] Boy”, which is Danez Smith’s best work was winner of the Poetry Society of America Norma Farber First Book Award. They are one of the most syndicated poets of 2017 with their works featured in “Blavity”, “Buzzfeed”, and “Beloit Poetry Journal”. Talking of fellowships, Smith has been racking them up over the years with a McKnight Foundation Fellowship, a VONA and Cave Canem alum, and A Dorothy Sargent – Ruth Lilly Fellow that he earned in 2014. Since he lives in the Midwest for most of the year, he often works for “Sad Boy Supper Club” and “Dark Noise Collective”. In 2017, Danez got one of the most important recognition by a fellow artist, when Patricia Smith who was the National Book Awardshortlister named him in her Emerging Writers Series by the American Academy of Poets. Similar to her contemporary Patricia, Smith loves to combine the aspects of page poetry and its performance on stage. Both of them write poetry that strikes a chord with the human heart, dismantles oppression constructs in its gripping depiction of arbitrary boundaries in society. Smith likes to write about social justice, faith, sexuality, class, and race relations using image, fierce raw power, and rhythm in re-imagining his society.”

[Insert] Boy” Danez Smith’s most acclaimed work is a novel about the body one of the most fertile grounds for poetry, that they are an expert at exploiting. For the most, the novel is partitioned into thematic sections totaling six parts, all of which are about the “Black Body”. The first section titled “Black” explores “Black Boys” in comparison with the people that treat them as objects and proceed to harm them. Danez mixes in and seamlessly weaves in long paragraphs with free verse in ever complex and contrasting patterns. The first part sets the stage for the sections to follow that include a section on how he perceives romance through his body. Sex work, recovering in body and spirit from traumatic experiences, childhood trauma exploration, before they comes back to a minor segment on the Black Body. They pace their poems perfectly, possibly as a result of their days writing slam poetry. They takes one line of the poem with a given meaning and lets it hang, while the following lines toy with it and take it in different directions, making for quit unique poetry structure and meaning. They write so nonchalantly yet his lines are really raw that the disconnect can sometimes feel shocking. They are great at using motifs particularly when they talk about mouths. Mouths are such a dominant motif in the novel that the start of one poem is them asserting that they will not be talking about mouths. The poems explore in a non-erotic and erotic way the uses and shapes of mouths and how the body is connected to it. They leaves unsaid to amplify the fact that words are for the most part the product of mouths.

The highly anticipated second collection by Danez Smith “Don’t Call Us Dead” is an excellent rendering of black life in the afterlife. It is particularly a heartrending depiction of black men who now live in a place full of longevity, love, safety that replaces the grief, violence, suspicion and police violence that had been visited on them for so long. Smith then pivots to mortality and desire, which typically pose some very perplexing questions that he expresses in an HIV positive diagnosis, blood, body, and skin. He asserts how the virus kills many of its victims in pieces, even as the rest of society has the luxury of dying all at once. The novel is an ambitious collection that is astonishing in its rebuke, praise, and confrontation of American society. One of its most emotive poems is “Dear White America”, a novel that asserts that living in America is a miracle and that a funeral is more of the norm for Black men. The novel is an evocative, tragic, provocative, sensual, and searing depiction of how a black man queer man perceives life in the American society. The novel is a great commentary on death, AIDS, homophobia, promiscuity, prejudice, violence, sexuality and race. Some novels paint highly vivid images, while some will just take your breath away with the excellent composition and depth.

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