Danez Smith

Great Poets

Poet Danez Smith

Danez Smith

Danez Smith is a prolific writer whose work focuses on their experiences of racism as a nonbinary Black person in America. Born in St. Paul, Minn., they address the rural American experience as well.

They have published four books, one of which was short-listed for the National Book Award – Don't Call Us Dead (2017).  In 2014, they were the festival director for the Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Slam. Former co-host of the Webby-nominated, Poetry Foundation podcast VS (Versus), they are the recipient of many fellowships and winner of a Pushcart Prize.

[Photo credit: Hieu Minh Nguyen, Poetry Foundation]



dear white america: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/150542/dear-white-america

alternate names for black boys

By Danez Smith


1.   smoke above the burning bush
2.   archnemesis of summer night
3.   first son of soil
4.   coal awaiting spark & wind
5.   guilty until proven dead
6.   oil heavy starlight
7.   monster until proven ghost
8.   gone
9.   phoenix who forgets to un-ash
10. going, going, gone
11. gods of shovels & black veils
12. what once passed for kindling
13. fireworks at dawn
14. brilliant, shadow hued coral
15. (I thought to leave this blank
       but who am I to name us nothing?)
16. prayer who learned to bite & sprint
17. a mother’s joy & clutched breath



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