Danez Smith Archive

Generosity as a Social Justice Reading Practice

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There are a number of practices and resources that can encourage the practice of reading generously or introduce one to new writers.

Imagining the Anthropocene: Danez Smith’s “summer, somewhere”

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Danez Smith’s second book of poems, Don’t Call Us Dead, takes up the project of rehumanizing black lives, reshaping lament into forward-looking prophecy. The collection’s opening epic poem, “summer, somewhere,” acts as a book of re-creation, turning premature mortality into a revived, embodied love drawn from the earth itself.

Plenty of Pride & No Prejudice?

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A while ago, while browsing the local Barnes & Noble, a friend and I started discussing how we got into LGBTQ literature, and how much reading specifically queer authors had meant to us in times of turmoil, both personal and not. This was in the aftermath of the Orlando

Truth & Dread: Why Poetry Still Matters & The Risk of (Too Much) Empathy

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If the question is whether most Americans are reading poetry, the answer is—I won’t sugarcoat it or fudge the numbers—“no.” My mother doesn’t read poetry, unless it’s mine. Does yours?

The Audacity of Canon Building

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Two scholar friends of mine who work in the very broad and sometimes amorphous field of the digital humanities curated a show last year at UC Berkeley called “No Legacy.” Among the goals of the curators Élika Ortega & Alex Saum-Pascual was the disruption of the notion ingrained in many

If Poets Wrote the News

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The New York Times published an interview this month with poet Daniel Nadler entitled “Why Poets Can Make Better Search Engines.” When I read the headline, I immediately thought: it must be because of their attentiveness to language.

The Inaugural Poem under a Trump Presidency: An Adynaton

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If Mr. Trump were to win the November election, all sorts of interesting questions arise: Would he ask someone to write and read an inaugural poem? Would the writer have to get the poem cleared by Trump? Most interesting of all, though: would the poet accept the invitation?

Poetry as Dialogue: Some Thoughts on Chapbooks

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There's never been a better time for poetry chapbooks, with hundreds of presses publishing excellent, innovative examples each year. This proliferation invites a closer look into the chapbook's history as a medium for more direct engagement and dialogue between writers and readers.

How to Do Things With Readings: After Cave Canem’s 20th Anniversary

Like any literary form or rule, the poetry reading raises questions regarding subjectivity and context: whose conventions are these, what do they enable, and how do they suit the projects at hand?

“Why not now go towards the things I love?”: The Aftermath of Being Queer

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Some part of me broke last Sunday. I kept scrolling this week through the news articles that listed the victims of the Orlando massacre, the pain in my heart growing with each name. It seems we’re being denied time and space to mourn.