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

Black Boy Be

         like ocean hid behind a grain of sand


         like a village ablaze & dreaming of spit


like ashy hands bathed in blue flame


like a pillar of bones sealed by honey


         like a mouthless prayer, a lost glory


         like a gold watch slowed by blood


like blood all over everything: the reeboks,

the tube socks, the air & the mother’s hands


like a nothing at all, & ain't that something?


         ain’t that the world?





Literary Movements:


Anthology Years:



Intersectionality & Culture

Police Brutality

Literary Devices:


visually descriptive or figurative language, especially in a literary work

Rhetorical Question

a question asked for effect, not necessarily to be answered


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