This is poetry that may make you uncomfortable, but it dazzles at the same time. I'm going to be completely candid. Anything I could write about this collection would be reductive as the poems manage to do and be so much. Danez's work transcends arbitrary boundaries to present work that is gripping, dismantling of oppression constructs, and striking on the human heart. 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. In his version, the boy plays with a gun, the metaphor: black boys toy with their own lives, the foreshadow to his end, the spitting image of his father.
Andrew McMillan has a website too, , and a second collection is due this summer. This slim volume is an exploration of the intersection of being black and gay in America. Sorry Oscar but Dinosaurs in the Hood has usurped The Ballad of Reading Goal. Smith has managed to leaven this pathos with praise, humor, and the hope of redemption. And Smith, at their best, entertains unusually well. Arnold by Robin Benway by Erika L.
When it comes to me, I agree with him. They are angry but also elegiac, powerful but often tender, sometimes simultaneously. Gay love is often the focus but the poems while specific also as all great writing does goes beyond that. The short list is headlined by Jesmyn Ward, whose Sing, Unburied, Sing appeared in. Smith reminds us that we must confront and dismantle racism, homophobia and fear-mongering as they are racking up a savage body-count.
Her first book, Thaw, was chosen by Allison Joseph to win the National Poetry Series University of Georgia Press, 2017. I mean, yeah, I am not a fan of Rupi Kaur's broken-up cliches either, but literary gatekeeping is pretty gross, especially when it serves to unfairly dismiss incredible collections like this one. Let me correct that: Good prose will kill you. He is one of the most original and powerful poets working today. Specifically Smith speaks powerfully about the experience of being a gay African American: how skin colour can lead someone One of my goals this year is to read more poetry and I feel lucky to have started with a new book which totally gripped me with the intensity of its voice.
I read and re-read this collection particularly its opening poem over several weeks. It is life, that seeps, bleeds ad yearns through the veins and the pores. They protest while making peace. He is one of the most original and powerful poets working today. Every poem impressed me, and the level of craft here is impeccable. Twenty people are packed in each boat for the 18-hour trip to Oaxaca.
The poems in this collection put me on edge, pulled at some of the threads of my complacency and gave me an insight into a life very different to my own. While the collection is necessarily dark, there is a lightness to it as well that will fill you with such light that only the best of poetry can muster. This material is necessarily bleak, but Smith's mercurial invention means it's never merely grim. I failed to keep my promise. Overall, I found this collection beautiful, brave, and refreshingly varied in terms of its experimentation with poetic form.
I was buying a bunch of other books so I thought, why not? As if what is written is already written. Smith races across lexicons and spectra, pushing even the boundaries of typography in wrestling with the dreadful fact that the black male body is imperiled from both within and without. I've read all the greats - Keats, Frost, Yeats, Whitman, Dickinson, Eliot - and I have never cried. I want a scene where a cop car gets pooped on by a pterodactyl, a scene where the corner store turns into a battle ground. There is pain here but there is so much joy, so much fierce resistance to anything that dares to temper the stories being told here.
The collection 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 on earth. Their poems are enriched to the point of volatility, but they pay out, often, in sudden joy. There is pain here but there is so much joy, so much fierce resistance to anything that dares to temper the stories being told here. Something I had been craving in poetry but never found until now. This review originally appeared in , Fall-Winter 2017. The gaps are not silent though, and that takes some skill.
This volume is a testament of a lively and courageous human facing the gun, so to speak, interrogating who flexes power and who is on the other end. In this moving, unsettling work, the question is not simply one of craft. Incandescent, indispensable, and, yes, nothing short of a miracle. Incandescent, indispensable, and, yes, nothing short of a miracle. Violence is everywhere and these poems keep us centered in the death that goes on when people do not love each other enough to actually value one another. What is so extraordinary about this collection is its lyricism, its humanity, and its urgency. But here is a list of some you will probably also want to watch, because the poet regularly places at live poetry competitions.