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Don't Call Us Dead: Poems (2017)

– tekijä: Danez Smith

JäseniäKirja-arvostelujaSuosituimmuussijaKeskimääräinen arvioMaininnat
2981167,099 (4.44)42
Smith's unflinching poetry addresses race, class, sexuality, faith, social justice, mortality, and the challenges of living HIV positive at the intersection of black and queer identity. The collection 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 on earth. "Dear White America," which Smith performed at the 2014 Rustbelt Midwest Region Poetry Slam, has as strong an impact on the page as it did on the spoken word stage. Smith's courage and hope amidst the struggle for unity in America will humble and uplift you.… (lisätietoja)
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Näyttää 1-5 (yhteensä 11) (seuraava | näytä kaikki)
This was recommended to me by the wondrous people at Tailored Book Recommendations when I asked for more poetry, and I absolutely fell in love with it. Filled with fierce love, joy, and mourning, it centers its gravity on the expendability of black bodies -- particularly young black boys and gay black men.

The first series of poems, "summer, somewhere," imagines an afterlife of eternal summer for the black boys who died before they had a chance to be men. It contains one of my favorite stanzas:

paradise is a world where everything
is sanctuary & nothing is a gun.


As much as this collection wants you to bear witness to the gun -- literal guns, metaphorical guns -- the guns that kill you quick, and the guns that take half your life to kill you, your whole life to kill you. The guns someone brandishes at you and the guns swimming through your own veins. It also builds sanctuary. Through the imagined paradise of black boy heaven, the plot to "Dinosaurs in the Hood" (my favorite poem here), owning lust and love and connection as a gay black man, a "little prayer" for healing.

I checked this out from the library but I may need to buy a copy so that I can unfold it over and over, bear witness, and share the dream. ( )
  greeniezona | Nov 14, 2020 |
Smith delves into issues of race, sexuality, the combination of both, the state of America, police brutality, HIV and AIDS, shame, and pride. I hope this book has found its way into at least one curriculum somewhere in America. it made me cry and feel ashamed of and angry about what's happening in the US. Full review to follow. ( )
  littlebookjockey | Sep 15, 2020 |
I've never read (or heard of) Danez Smith before this. I also don't typically read poetry but I have enjoyed several/numerous works in the past, and I enjoy dipping my toe into poetry every so often. This was in the new section at the Hershey Library and was recommended to me there (as it appears also to be up for several awards / the author is up for several awards.) Looking at the reviews this has gotten.... most likely my review will be ...not the norm, as I will be reviewing this less favorably than most did. Some of which might be because of my lack of knowledge/fondness/insight into poetry, some of it might be because I am not (or am I?) the target demographic for this particular set of poetry, but I think my review upholds mostly because its an honest review.

Danez Smith is (as you quickly find out reading through the poems), an African-American gay (or possibly bi-sexual, some lines suggest he might be 'bi' or at one point was or at one time acted as if he was straight to appease society/family) and HIV positive. (Other than knowing he was African-American by the back cover and the cover image used, the rest was unknown to me ahead of time.) So much of his poetry resonates from these themes/categories.

He rails against the anti-black, anti-gay, anti-black/gay discrimination he feels is prevalent in society; not so much as aimed at HIM directly but aimed at ALL directly. He almost falls into the trap of the 'stereotype Angry Black Man' with much of his writings/poems; and much for good reason (and some not). All of the poems are about the oppression of blacks, particularly gay black men, and particularly those stigmatized by being HIV positive.

I understand the hate and the anger against cops. I empathize with it. I obviously don't have the same feelings, I don't have the same background, haven't had the same prejudices against me, or the fear or worry about cops and just violence against blacks in general.... but much of this just reads as hate. Like reverse hate. And it seems to be a bigger problem to it all in general, and its not just Smith, its things in general. 'I think the cops are out to get me' / 'The cops are out to get me' so 'down with the cops' / 'violence against cops!' . It'll be a cycle that won't get broken. He even at one point in the one poem brings up Martin Luther King. I can't believe King would condone the speech Smith uses in the poems about cops, or the speech used in general against cops. Showing hatred to hatred will not stop hatred. Its also painted generalizations. He rails about how gay black men (and black men, and HIV sufferers) are prejudged and hated on and stereotyped and have to deal with all that backlash just because of who they are - as a group, not as an individual - and here he is doing the same against cops, against whites, etc. And sadly, this doesn't distance Smith against much else written, as there is a ton of literature online in blogs, in music, in social media, etc, about black vs. cops and gay vs. straight et cetera.

Much of the poems feels and reads like free verse social media posts by your friend who doesn't use correct punctuation but has a very deep passion and just has to write it all out and get it all out and let it loose. Much of these poems also feel like a first attempt / first draft, or just plainly the only draft. Like he wrote it down, got it out, saved it in Microsoft Word, and then at the end collected them all and handed them off to the editor/publisher/agent/whoever and they nodded and went 'ok'. The poems are FILLED with passion, there is no doubting that. And I think much of the select words were chosen on purpose, but I don't think there was a direct care or worry about the writing in general, in a broader sense. As if there wasn't a total of care put into the sentence (line, or poem) structure, but certain words were selected with the upmost care, and things were kind of build around it to a degree.

I'm hoping maybe the library will have his previous work or will get any more he does, just to compare this to them and see if he has more in him, and is better than this, but this was sorely lacking and a disappointment to me, especially considering the reviews I have read.

And again, I'm not sure if that's my lack of familiarity with poetry, or not being the target demographic (though I think I am actually the target demographic, and he was hoping to ensnare 'non-African Americans' and get them to see his side, which is ultimately the purpose of any writing, but specifically this piece). I just found it a wash, and not as resonating as I'm sure he'd hope for it to be.

For instance the raw verbiage and discussing about how much of the digital age, the 'app' culture - using Grinder to meet other guys, and how some will say 'no black men' and things like this. I can understand and even relate to degrees of it, the intensity is admirable and the passion is definitely there. I think structure, deep themes, complexity, and just something isn't there. Each poem pretty much runs into the next as there is no real distinction amongst most of them. Variety and depth is lacking in that area. I also think maybe he doesn't quite get the context of things like 'no black men' and stuff like that in the same way there is trolls and targets and anti-this or anti-that on any app or site. For dating sites you'll see all kinds of "no X" or "no Y". In the same way in reverse, you'll see things like "only black men" or "only white men" or "only fat chicks" or stuff, whereas you'll see the same in reverse "no black men" or "no white men" or "no fat chicks" and in reverse... ad nauseum. Its the nature of the medium that targets millions upon millions of people. 'No redheads, no blondes, no brunettes, no blacks, no whites, no pregnants, no disabled, no huge, no small, no tall, no short, no bald, no hairy, etc. etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc.'

I do understand where he is coming from, and I empathize, and hopefully this will resonate with me as time goes on and I move away from the work. But I think it won't - hopefully I'll be proven wrong. Time will tell. ( )
  BenKline | Jul 1, 2020 |
Phenomenal work. Danez Smith is a wizard, and as soon as I finished this collection I purchased their more recent book.

Thrilling commentary on our nation's culture, and the fear experienced by those with Smith's intersecting marginalization. Poetry is about putting words to the abstract, and Smith elegantly shows us how our country is not only broken, but it was never working in the first place.

"Do I think someone created AIDS? Maybe. Nothing would surprise me in a country where you can burn a body with less outrage than a flag." (Approximate quote) ( )
  MaxAndBradley | May 27, 2020 |
Reading Danez Smith is a great privilege indeed. There is honesty, brutality, tenderness, sorrow in this collection, it runs the gamut. There's nothing else I've read in recent memory that compels me to rage, question my racial privilege, and points a finger directly at the sheer depravity of white supremacy.
  b.masonjudy | Apr 3, 2020 |
Näyttää 1-5 (yhteensä 11) (seuraava | näytä kaikki)
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Englanninkielinen Wikipedia

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Smith's unflinching poetry addresses race, class, sexuality, faith, social justice, mortality, and the challenges of living HIV positive at the intersection of black and queer identity. The collection 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 on earth. "Dear White America," which Smith performed at the 2014 Rustbelt Midwest Region Poetry Slam, has as strong an impact on the page as it did on the spoken word stage. Smith's courage and hope amidst the struggle for unity in America will humble and uplift you.

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