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Danez Smith's work as a black and queer poet, transcends arbitrary boundaries to present work that grips, dismantles oppressive constructs, and strikes on the human heart. Often centered around intersections of race, class, sexuality, faith, and social justice -- Danez uses rhythm, fierce raw power, and imagery to re-imagine the world as they take it apart.

Recipient of 2017 NEA award for poetry, Danez has performed on stages abroad & all over the US; recently they were a featured performed on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Their work has been published widely on platforms including Poetry Magazine, Beloit Poetry Journal, Blavity, Buzzfeed, and Ploughshares. Danez is the 2016 winner of the Kate Tufts Poetry Award, 2016 Hopwood Awardee, and winner of the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry. Smith’s 2nd full-length collection will be published by Graywolf Press in September of 2017.


Breathtaking Poem Imagines An ‘Alternate Heaven For Black Boys’

"What if there were an alternate heaven for slain black boys, a place where the horrors of racism and police brutality didn’t exist?

Poet Danez Smith imagines such a world in a poem posted by Button Poetry on Tuesday and performed at the Rustbelt Regional Poetry Slam in June ― and it’s breathtakingly beautiful. Smith paints a powerful portrait of an afterlife wherein “boys brown as rye play the dozens and ball,” where they “jump in the air and stay there.” 

Recalling the deaths of young black boys like Michael Brown, Jordan Davis, Tamir Rice and Trayvon Martin, Smith goes on to speak of a world in which there is no fear of police brutality."

Danez Smith is angry, erotic, politicized, innovative, classical, a formalist, an activist, and blends all of this without seeming to strain. . . . This will be one of the year’s essential books.
— Craig Morgan Teicher, NPR
This book is poetry as fierce fire. There is such intelligence and fervor in these poems about black men and their imperiled bodies, gay men and their impassioned bodies, what it means to be HIV positive, and so much more. Every poem impressed me, and the level of craft here is impeccable. Loved this one.
— Roxane Gay