Danez Smith

They // Them // Theirs

[ID: Danez, a young Black person with a short high top fade, smiling with all their teeth. They are wearing a green shirt, a multi-colored tank top, a gold necklace, and a wristwatch.]

Poet and Writer
Minneapolis, MN
2021 USA Fellow

This award was generously supported by Anonymous.

Danez Smith is the author of three collections including Homie, Don’t Call Us Dead (winner of the Forward Prize for Best Collection, the Midwest Booksellers Choice Award, and a finalist for the National Book Award), and [insert] boy (winner of the Kate Tufts Discovery Award and a Lambda Literary Award). They are the recipient of fellowships from the Cave Canem, Princeton, the McKnight Foundation, the Poetry Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Their poetry and prose has been featured in Vanity Fair, The New York Times, The New Yorker, Best American Poetry, Poetry Magazine, and on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Danez is a member of the Dark Noise Collective and is the co-host of the podcast VS with Franny Choi. Danez’s work employs the confessional and the communal voice to hopefully offer something of use to Black and/or Queer and/or Poz readers and whoever else might encounter something useful in the work. They live in Minneapolis near their people.

Photo by Hieu Minh Nguyen.


my poems, 2019

my poems are fed up & getting violent.

i whisper to them tender tender bridge bridge but they say bitch ain’t no time, make me a weapon!

i hold a poem to a judge’s neck until he’s not a judge anymore.

i tuck a poem next to my dick, sneak it on the plane.

a poem goes off in the capitol, i raise a glass in unison.

i mail a poem to 3/4ths of the senate, they choke off the scent.

my mentor said once a poem can be whatever you want it to be.

so i bury the poem in the river & the body in the fire.

i poem a nazi i went to college with in the jaw until his face hangs a bone tambourine.

i poem ten police a day.

i poem the mayor with my bare hands.

i poem the hands off the men who did what they know they did.

i poem a racist woman into a whistle & feel only a little bad.

i poem the president on live TV, his head raised above my head, i say Baldwin said.

i call my loves & ask for their lists.

i poem them all. i poem them all with a grin, bitch.

poemed in the chair, handless, volts ready to run me, when they ask me what i regret

i poem multitudes multitudes multitudes.