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Book Title


Author 1
Danez Smith
Poem Excerpt
i took the awards & cashed the checks.
i did the one about the boy when requested, traded their names
for followers. in lieu of action, i wrote a book,
edited my war cries down to prayers. oh, devil.
they gave me God & gave me clout.
they took my poems & took my blades.
Satan, like you did for God, i sang.
i sang for my enemy, who was my God.
i gave it my best. i bowed, even smiled.
teach me to never bend again.

—from “less hope”
Written after two years of artistic silence, during which the world came to a halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic and Minneapolis became the epicenter of protest following the murder of George Floyd, Bluff is Danez Smith’s powerful reckoning with their role and responsibility as a poet and with their hometown of the Twin Cities. This is a book of awakening out of violence, guilt, shame, and critical pessimism to wonder and imagine how we can strive toward a new existence in a world that seems to be dissolving into desolate futures.  
Smith brings a startling urgency to these poems, their questions demanding a new language, a deep self-scrutiny, and virtuosic textual shapes. A series of ars poetica gives way to “anti poetica” and “ars america” to implicate poetry’s collusions with unchecked capitalism. A photographic collage accrues across a sequence to make clear the consequences of America's acceptance of mass shootings. A brilliant long poem—part map, part annotation, part visual argument—offers the history of Saint Paul’s vibrant Rondo neighborhood before and after officials decided to run an interstate directly through it.

Bluff is a kind of manifesto about artistic resilience, even when time and will can seem fleeting, when the places we most love—those given and made—are burning. In this soaring collection, Smith turns to honesty, hope, rage, and imagination to envision futures that seem possible.

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“Danez Smith is a powerhouse of poetry.”—Literary Hub

About the Author

Danez  Smith
Credit: Anna Min
Danez Smith is the author of Don’t Call Us Dead, winner of the Forward Prize for Best Collection and a finalist for the National Book Award, and [insert] boy, winner of the Kate Tufts Discovery Award. They live in Minneapolis.
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  • “From rage and grief to inspiration and hope, these poems are an emotionally powerful call to action.”—Susie Dumond, Book Riot
  • “Smith’s fourth full-length collection arrives in August and looks to be a restless, passionate admixture of forms, a chopped-up sonnet, prose vignettes and political commentaries, a long poem about the Rondo neighborhood in Smith’s native St. Paul.”—David Woo, Literary Hub
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