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

what was said at the bus stop

lately has been a long time

says the girl from Pakistan, Lahore to be specific 

at the bus stop when the white man

ask her where she’s from & then

says, oh, you from Lahore? 

it’s pretty bad over there lately. 


lately has been a long time

she says & we look at each other & the look says

yes, i too wish dude would stop

asking us about where we from

but on the other side of our side eyes

is maybe a hand where hands do no good

a look to say, yes, i know lately has been

a long time for your people too

& i’m sorry the world is so good at making

us feel like we have to fight for space

to fight for our lives


“solidarity” is a word, a lot of people say it

i’m not sure what it means in the flesh

i know i love & have cried for my friends

their browns a different brown than mine

i’ve danced their dances when taught

& tasted how their mothers miracle the rice

different than mine. i know sometimes

i can’t see beyond my own pain, past black

& white, how bullets love any flesh. 

i know it’s foolish to compare. 

what advice do the drowned have for the burned? 

what gossip is there between the hanged & the buried? 


& i want to reach across our great distance

that is sometimes an ocean & sometimes centimeters

& say, look. your people, my people, all that has happened

to us & still make love under rusted moons, still pull

children from the mothers & name them

still teach them to dance & your pain is not mine

& is no less & is mine & i pray to my god your god

blesses you with mercy & i have tasted your food & understand

how it is a good time & i don’t know your language

but i understand your songs & i cried when they came

for your uncles & when you buried your niece

i wanted the world to burn in the child’s brief memory

& still, still, still, still, still, still, still, still, still

& i have stood by you in the soft shawl of morning

waiting & breathing & waiting 





Literary Movements:


Anthology Years:



Intersectionality & Culture


Literary Devices:


the replacement of one part of speech for another, often referred to as a “functional shift.”


conversation between two or more people as a feature of a book, play, or movie


a recurrence of the same word or phrase two or more times