I was lucky enough to pick up Danez Smith’s book [insert] boy by accident at McNally Jackson in New York a few weeks ago — one look at the fantastic cover art by Jonathan Chase, I knew I’d have to open it. I found songs undermining and unpacking notions of race, family, trauma, and sexuality. They are writhing, steamy, violent and transcendent verses. Two poems in, I closed the book and headed to the checkout counter.
After that, Smith kept coming up everywhere I went. Little did I know, [insert] boy had won a zillion prizes including the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry. Originally from St Paul Minnesota, his poems now scream and whisper of and in black urban centres around America.
His newest book, Don’t Call Us Dead, will be released this year from Graywolf Press. Recently, one of the best journals/presses out there, BOAAT, published an intense, raunchy, rhythmic and humorous poem by Smith called “All the Good Dick Live in Brooklyn Park” — that should give you the taste you need.
Jonathan Valelly is the Assistant Editor of Broken Pencil.