Don't Call Us Dead

Don't Call Us Dead


Paperback - 2017
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Finalist for the National Book Award for Poetry
Winner of the Forward Prize for Best Collection

"[Smith's] poems are enriched to the point of volatility, but they pay out, often, in sudden joy."-- The New Yorker

Award-winning poet Danez Smith is a groundbreaking force, celebrated for deft lyrics, urgent subjects, and performative power. 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. Smith turns then to desire, mortality--the dangers experienced in skin and body and blood--and a diagnosis of HIV positive. "Some of us are killed / in pieces," Smith writes, "some of us all at once." Don't Call Us Dead is an astonishing and ambitious collection, one that confronts, praises, and rebukes America--"Dear White America"--where every day is too often a funeral and not often enough a miracle.

Publisher: Minneapolis, Minnesota : Graywolf Press, 2017.
ISBN: 9781555977856
Characteristics: 88 pages ; 23 cm
Alternative Title: Do not call us dead


From Library Staff

September 2019 selection

September 2019 selection

Smith's incandescent poetry collection explores what it means to be black, queer and HIV-positive with admirable passion. By turns romantic, erotic, haunting and defiant, these poems burn with a lyric intensity that reflect the activist times we live in yet also ring with eternal human themes of ... Read More »

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Jun 28, 2020

A very powerful poetry collection. Worth following along on audio.

Jun 23, 2018

This was a very good book of poems. There isn't much poetry (or books in general) written from the perspective of a gay Black man so this book was much needed.

Apr 06, 2018

I don't even know where to start talking about this book. It reached right into my chest and wrung out my heart. Here's a few lines from Smith's poem "seroconversion" that can tell you better than I can why you should read this:

one day, the boy with a difficult name
laid with a boy who shall remain
nameless in the sun & they rolled around
waiting for something to burn. the next
day, the boy with the difficult name
woke up in a blue sweat, walked the rim
of the lake & though nothing burned,
something was growing from ashes, for
mosquitos flew away from his skin, ticks
latched onto his ankle & turned to
smoke, weeds & willows bowed green
spines to him & he swore he heard the
dirt singing his name

saying it right

SPPL_Kristen Mar 14, 2018

A beautiful, heart-wrenching collection. Smith brings an important voice and perspective to the table and does so in unique, exciting ways.

Jan 27, 2018

The hype for Danez Smith is deserved. This collection features some of the most vital poetry of our time. It is both a labor of craft and also accessible enough for your grandparents to read.


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