An African American blog of politics, culture, and social activism.
Danez Smith is a poet, performer, and playwright from St. Paul, MN. Danez, A Cave Canem fellow, is published in PANK, Illumination, Orange Quarterly, and elsewhere. Danez is a senior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison as a founding member of the First Wave Hip-Hop Theatre Ensemble. A Slam Champion of the Minneapolis and Madison Poetry scenes, Danez has established himself as a performer, writer, teacher, and personality in his many worlds, recently placing 6th in the world at the Individual World Poetry Slam. His One-Man Theatre Production “For Those Who Pray In Closets” is receiving critical acclaim and standing ovations wherever it is performed. Danez has travelled across the country and the globe to Mexico, Panama, Switzerland, and England to perform poetry and theatre. A young artist walking and writing in the footsteps of Balwin and Hughes, Danez seeks to continue to be a voice for hushed choir boys, the walking shadows, the joy, hurt, and journey of the black, queer men. Pulling from his artistic endeavors in music and theatre, his voice on the page sings of his old soul, his experienced youth, his treasured mistakes, and all the things that imagine him human.
Source: Caven Canem
For black boys
you were born
made from matchbooks and sparks
your skin, history’s shrapnel
you wade through your people gun smoke
for a battle nobody ever named more than “struggle”
a bullet wound where your mouth should be
switch blade tongue, grenade pin teeth
they are afraid when you speak
where you see God, they see tin man
made form prison bars
or gorillas trained to shoot or chalk
outlines in bad neighborhoods
you are a heavenless thing to them
wings made of chains, a halo
grown tired and fat resting around your neck
this would be the part where I would use noose imagery
but lynching is easy to explain
How do you describe a son set
course to casket from birth?
The grim reaper is named Ray-Ray
he is your cousin and has tears
inked into his cheek
because no one told him
he was he was beautiful enough
to cry. he has a talent
for making ghost.