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It isn’t always the case that a collection of poems is published and within seven days the book is longlisted for the National Book Award—this is especially true when the poet is under the age of thirty. All the hype set aside, Don’t Call Us Dead is a potent, ferocious book situated at the intersections of race, sexuality, mythology, social justice, and faith. Though such a list of subjects might sound jarring or easily mismanaged, Smith’s eye for images, coupled with their ear for melodies, results in a nearly perfect orchestration of startlingly difficult, if not revelatory, themes. What if dinosaurs were the guardians of the hood? What might a paradise-after-life for all those illegally and unnecessarily slain by police officers look like? Smith gives us answers to these questions and much, much more. These poems are raw and masterful—they bite just as sharply as they soothe.— From Bennet's picks
Finalist for the National Book Award for Poetry
" 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.