Don't Call Us Dead

by Danez Smith

Subject categories
ISBNs
  • 9781784742041
  • 9781473549173

*WINNER OF THE FORWARD PRIZE FOR BEST COLLECTION 2018*
*A Finalist for the National Book Award for Poetry 2017*

*A Financial Times and Telegraph Book of the Year 2018*

‘[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 ground-breaking 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 an HIV-positive diagnosis.

‘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 an America where every day is too often a funeral and not often enough a miracle.


  • Random House; January 2018
  • ISBN: 9781473549173
  • Read online, or download in secure ePub format
  • Title: Don't Call Us Dead
  • Author: Danez Smith
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
Subject categories
ISBNs
  • 9781784742041
  • 9781473549173

In The Press

"[Danez Smith’s] poems are enriched to the point of volatility, but they pay out, often, in sudden joythey also know the magic trick of making writing on the page operate like the most ecstatic speech. And they are, in their cadences and management of lines, deeply literary. I hear Gerard Manley Hopkins, the Jesuit priest who jury-rigged his verse to express personal turmoil, and Hart Crane, whose gentleness was expressed in an American idiom full of thunderclap, and Allen Ginsberg, who loved and learned from them both. The addition of Smith’s star turns a random cluster of points into a constellation, the way new work of this calibre always does… In this moving, unsettling work, the question is not simply one of craft. It’s about how the body and its authority can be manifested in writing, with only the spindly trace of letters to stand in for it"


About The Author

Danez Smith’s debut poetry collection, [insert] boy, won the Kate Tufts Discovery Award and the Lambda Literary Award. Smith has received fellowships from the McKnight Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, and has published poems in Granta, Poetry and The Best American Poetry. Smith lives in Minneapolis.