Danez Smith is a Black, Queer, Poz writer & performer from St. Paul, MN. Smith is the author of Don’t Call Us Dead (Graywolf Press, 2017), winner of the Forward Prize for Best Collection, the Midwest Booksellers Choice Award, and a finalist for the National Book Award; they also wrote [insert] boy (YesYes Books, 2014), winner of the Kate Tufts Discovery Award and the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry. They are the recipient of fellowships from the Poetry Foundation, the McKnight Foundation, the Montalvo Arts Center, Cave Canem, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Smith's work has been featured widely, appearing on platforms such as Buzzfeed, The New York Times, PBS NewsHour, Best American Poetry, Poetry Magazine, and on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Smith is a member of the Dark Noise Collective and is the co-host of VS with Franny Choi, a podcast sponsored by the Poetry Foundation and Postloudness. Smith’s third collection, Homie, will be published by Graywolf in Spring 2020. Find more at www.danezsmithpoet.com
Join the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing and Burton Barr Central Library for a talk with poet Danez Smith on Thursday, September 12, 2019 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. in the Pulliam Auditorium at Burton Barr Central Library (1221 N Central Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85004).
While encouraged, RSVPs are purely for the purposes of monitoring attendance, gauging interest, and communicating information about parking, directions, and other aspects of the event. You do not have to register or RSVP to attend this event. This event is open to the public and free.
This workshop seeks to explore the idea of audience while debunking the myths that our audience is either everyone or no one. We will hone in on what tools writers use to signal to their audiences that the poem is to/for them, how we add love, empathy, and intimacy into our writing, and how we can be more in use of our work as gathering grounds and private lines of communication.
Dear White America, I've left Earth in search of darker planets, a solar system that revolves too near a black hole. I left a patch of dirt in my place and many of you won't know the difference. Give it my name if it makes you feel better while you run your hands through its soiled scalp. I have left in search of a new god. I do not trust the God you have given us...
It needs to be said straight away, if only for practical purposes, that Danez (stress on the second syllable), who is African American, gay, gender-neutral and HIV positive, prefers to be referred to as “they”. When we meet, Smith confirms that “they” feels more comfortable than the alternative “ze” because: “I feel like many people sometimes.” The plurality is also perfect for a poet who speaks for, and to, so many and who should be read by everyone.
For me, it’s about writing a good poem. The questions of page and performance come later. My first allegiance is with what the poem wants to be, in terms of how it looks. The question of performance is something I ask myself at a later date once the poem is finished, when I ask myself, ‘can I read this to an audience one time through and be able to make them feel something?’
Vivid, unsettling and uplifting all at once, the second full-length from award-winning poet Danez Smith is part elegy, part celebration and part poetry-as-witness. Smith is a black, queer, HIV-positive poet, and these are the poems of a person not only navigating their complex place in the world, but dictating it firmly and without recourse to everyone in earshot.