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September 25, 2018

Danez Smith: Forward Award Poetry 2018

by N@ncy

  • Author: Danez Smith
  • Title: Don’t Call Us Dead
  • Published: 2017
  • Genre: poems
  • Trivia: Short list National Book Award 2017
  • Trivia: Awarded Forward Prize  in London 18 September 2018



  1. Once I figured out who ‘WE” were and
  2. what “HERE” meant  and
  3. where  SOMEWHERE and SOMEPLACE is…
  4. in the first poem ‘Summer, Somehere’
  5. my mind wanted to race through the entire collection immediately.
  6. Don’t.
  7. Take the time to read each poem at least 10 x…let them sink in.
  8. Danez Smith has broken through the formal poetry rules and created a
  9. poetry that is unique …all its own.
  10. There is a crude but eloquent energy in every piece of writing
  11. Danez Smith is a meteorite of the poetry world.


“Don’t Call Us Dead,” landed on the longlist for the National Book Award 2017.



Frank Bidart, Half-light: Collected Poems 1965-2016 (Farrar, Straus and Giroux / Macmillan Publishers)



Last thoughts:

  1. Don’t Call Us Dead wrestles with what it means to
  2. be a young black gay man in America.
  3. It begins with a lengthy poem — “summer, somewhere” —
  4. that imagines a utopic afterlife for
  5. victims of racism and police brutality.
  6. This is not language…it is music in your head!
  7. Here is the first stanza of the poem…..amazing!


“summer, somewhere”

somewhere, a sun. below, boys brown
as rye play the dozens & ball, jump

in the air & stay there. boys become new
moons, gum-dark on all sides, beg bruise

-blue water to fly, at least tide, at least
spit back a father or two. i won’t get started.

history is what it is. it knows what it did.
bad dog. bad blood. bad day to be a boy

color of a July well spent. but here, not earth
not heaven, we can’t recall our white shirts

turned ruby gowns. here, there’s no language
for officer or law, no color to call white.

if snow fell, it’d fall black. please, don’t call
us dead, call us alive someplace better.

we say our own names when we pray.
we go out for sweets & come back.


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