Danez Smith


Danez Smith was born St. Paul, Minnesota. They are the author of Don't Call Us Dead (2017), a finalist for the National Book Award; [insert] Boy (2014), winner of the Lambda Literary Award and the Kate Tufts Discovery Award; and the chapbook hands on ya knees (Penmanship Books, 2013). Smith is the recipient of fellowships from the McKnight Foundation, Cave Canem, Voices of Our Nation (VONA), and elsewhere. They are a founding member of the multigenre, multicultural Dark Noise Collective. Their writing has appeared in many magazines and journals, such as Poetry, Ploughshares, Beloit Poetry Journal, and Kinfolks. In poetry slam, Smith is a 2011 Individual World Poetry Slam finalist and the reigning two-time Rustbelt Individual Champion, and was on the 2014 championship team Sad Boy Supper Club. In 2014 they were the festival director for the Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Slam, and were awarded a Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry fellowship from the Poetry Foundation. Smith earned a BA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where they were a First Wave Urban Arts Scholar. They are a co-host of the Poetry Foundation's podcast, VS. Source

i didn’t like you when i met you

but like the funk of a dude unwashed & sun-whooped

i learned the need. & like dude, you were stank & i

was stank right back, two skunks pissed & pissing, smelling like skunks.

but somehow (was it mutual hate for a stanker fuck? a song

our dueling shoulders found each other in? a synced nod?

being the only of our kind in a room full of not-us?) here we live

two stank bitches, thick as mothers, a lil gone off love’s gold milk.

i didn’t know when i thought, i don’t like that hoe, it was just

my reflection i couldn’t stand. i saw it. the way you would break me

into a better me. i ran from it. like any child, i saw my medicine

& it looked so sharp, so exact, a blade fit to the curve of my name.

what a shame. i was slow to you. walked up on you like a bee trapped

in a car—all that fear pent in my wings, those screaming, swatting giants

& then, finally, the window, the wind, the flowers, the honey






Literary Movements:


Anthology Years:



Humor & Satire

Love & Relationships

Literary Devices:


the absence of a conjunction (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so…) between phrases and within a sentence

Bleeding Title

when the title of a poem acts as the first line


words or phrases repeated one after another in quick succession

Internal Rhyme

A rhyme involving a word in the middle of a line and another at the end of the line or in the middle of the next.

Rhetorical Question

a question asked for effect, not necessarily to be answered


a comparison between two unlike things using the words “like” or “as”