Don't Call Us Dead by Danez Smith
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Don't Call Us Dead is a hauntingly beautiful collection of poetry that wrestles with themes of Blackness, police brutality, love, sexuality and HIV/AIDS. Danez Smith has curated a brilliant collection that boldly confronts what it means to be alive, what it means to die (or be killed), and what it means to exist in a perpetual state of being face-to-face with one's own mortality.
This is the kind of poetry that shakes you to your core, takes up residence in your bones and refuses to release its grip. You can't fake the kind of power that bursts forth from those pages. After almost every poem I had to pause, reflect, and remind myself to exhale the breath that'd found itself caught in my chest.
Let it be known; Danez Smith has RANGE. The poetry in this collection utilizes a variety of techniques that prove that Smith isn't simply a poet but also an ardent and astute student of poetry. Smith possesses and employs an arsenal of tools to hook you and carry you through a range of emotions, all the while laying bare the raw complexities of a particular, marginalized human existence.
This collection is a breathtaking, heartbreaking, soul-stirring experience. The poems were so riveting that I returned my library copy and purchased a copy to keep before I'd even gotten halfway through. The passion and vulnerability is raw and gripping; I knew almost instantly that this is a collection that I'll be coming back to again and again. I also quickly made sure to get my hands on some of Smith's other work. I am now an absolute fan, and I can only hope to one day be able to produce a collection as beautiful as this.
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