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Don't Call Us Dead

Poems
Danez Smith
history is what it is. it knows what it did.
bad dog. bad blood. bad day to be a boy
 
color of a July well spent. but here, not earth
not heaven, we can’t recall our white shirts
 
turned ruby gowns. here, there’s no language
for officer or law, no color to call white.
 
if snow fell, it’d fall black. please, don’t call
us dead, call us alive someplace better.
 
we say our own names when we pray.
we go out for sweets & come back.
 
—from “summer, somewhere”
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, 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 collection, one that confronts America where every day is too often a funeral and not often enough a miracle.     

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$16.00
ISBN
978-1-55597-785-6
Format
Paperback
Publication Date
Subject
Pages
104
Trim Size
6.5 x 9
"Danez Smith's is a voice we need . . . . This is a mighty work and a tremendous offering." (Tracy K. Smith)

About the Author

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.

http://www.danezsmithpoet.com/
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Upcoming Events

Graywolf at 45: Minneapolis Literary Gala

Date:
Location:
Aria in Minneapolis, MNview map

Celebrate Graywolf's forty-five years of adventurous publishing and welcome our biggest literary stars to our home town

The 2019 Graywolf Literary Gala will feature Eula Biss (On ImmunityNotes from No Man's Land), Maggie Nelson (The ArgonautsThe Red Parts), and Claudia Rankine (CitizenThe White Card) with introductions by Danez Smith (Don't Call Us Dead).

Join us for a wonderful evening featuring three authors who embody Graywolf's mission, and enjoy a gourmet appetizer and cocktail reception followed by a seated program with wine, cheese, and desserts. As Graywolf looks back on forty-five years of adventurous publishing, help us celebrate becoming a destination press for some of the most ground-breaking writers of our time.

Tickets on sale starting March 1, 2019. Single tickets are $275, and two or more tickets are $250 each ($75 of each ticket is not tax-deductible). Sponsorships are available starting at $1,000; to learn more, contact Rachel Fulkerson at fulkerson@graywolfpress.org.

All proceeds support Graywolf Press, a nonprofit publisher committed to the discovery and energetic publication of twenty-first century American and international literature.

Danez Smith appearing as part of Chicago Humanities Festival

Date:
Location:
Chicago Humanities Festival in Chicago, ILview map
VS Live: with Franny Choi and Patricia Smith.

Praise

  • “[Danez Smith's] poems are enriched to the point of volatility, but they pay out, often, in sudden joy. . . . But they also know the magic trick of making writing on the page operate like the most ecstatic speech.”The New Yorker
  • “[A] stunning collection. . . . These pieces pulse with the rhythms and assertiveness one expects from poetry slams.”The Washington Post
  • “Smith activates a spectrum of emotions in material that could justifiably remain tragic, bringing pathos and several senses of humor.”The Nation
  • “This will be one of the year’s essential books.”—NPR
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