“Danez Smith has a remarkable talent for distilling disparate experiences and emotions into powerful and provocative images. His poems tackle the complexities of being young, black, and HIV-positive. He is a keen observer of the human condition, and his words express with urgency the need to understand one another. I loved this collection, and I'm so glad that this born-and-bred St. Paul poet is getting the recognition his talents so richly deserve.”
— Matt Keliher, SubText Books, St. Paul, MN
Finalist for the National Book Award for Poetry
" Smith's] poems are enriched to the point of volatility, but they pay out, often, in sudden joy."--The New Yorker
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 and 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 and ambitious collection, one that confronts, praises, and rebukes America--"Dear White America"--where every day is too often a funeral and not often enough a miracle.