I'd like to invent or order up new adjectives to describe the startling originality and ambition of Smith's work. I'd like to unwrap some brand-new words, oddly pronged words, to convey their wary intelligence and open heart. Instead, I can only yoke together antonyms to convey anything of their particular vibration: their joy-dread, hunger-contentment, holy-profanity…The radiance of
Homie arrives like a shock, like found money, like a flower fighting through concrete…Each poem feels like a maze designed to take the poet and the reader to some new destination, some new understanding…This is a book full of the turbulence of thought and desire, piloted by a writer who never loses their way.
The New York Times - Parul Sehgal
Don’t Call Us Dead) presents an electrifying, unabashedly queer ode to friendship and community in their exuberant and mournful second collection. Smith alternates colloquial and lofty language, often within the same poem, and eschews most punctuation and grammatical strictures. In “ode to gold teeth,” the poet writes of their grandfather, “gold gate of grandpa’s holler/ midas touch his blue hum/ honeymetal perfuming prayers,” later referring to him as the “OG of the gin sermon & front-porch pulpit.” These poems are a celebration of black culture and experience, and a condemnation of white supremacy and its effect; in “dogs!,” Smith excoriates racist dehumanization: “i too been called boy & expected/ to come, heel.” In “sometimes i wish i felt the side effects,” Smith explores conflicting feelings related to an HIV diagnosis—simultaneous devastation and relief (“it felt like i got it out the way, to finally know it”), acceptance, and shame (“i braved the stupidest ocean. a man. i waded in his stupid waters”). The collection’s final poem, “acknowledgments,” is a beautiful love poem to a best friend, one that is as heartfelt as it is quotable: “if luck calls your name, we split the pot/ & if you wither, surely i rot.” Smith is a visionary polyglot with a fearless voice. (Jan.)
The radiance of
Homie arrives like a shock, like found money, like a flower fighting through concrete. . . . This is a book full of the turbulence of thought and desire, piloted by a writer who never loses their way.” The New York Times “In these abundant, bighearted poems, Smith examines the psychic trauma of existing in a world of racism and xenophobia, as well as the ability of intimate friendships to deliver salvation.” Esquire “[ Homie] is a collection that confirms Smith’s great talent.” BuzzFeed “[ Homie] offers the opportunity to witness ‘the miracle of other people’s lives’ and will challenge you to consider how and why that miracle is dismissed in countless daily acts of racial aggression.” (Minneapolis) Star Tribune “Danez Smith is a powerhouse of poetry. . . . Their language is always electric, and Homie is no exception. The ways in which Smith combines syntax, humor, reverence and irreverence are stunning, and this collection of odes is bound to be a widespread poetry favorite.” Literary Hub “ Homie is expansive, big enough to hold a vast mosaic of emotion and style, of life and death, of survival and resilience, of pain and joy.” Lambda Literary “ Homie does not just meet expectations. It shatters them. Smith is at their absolute best, technically and narratively, throughout their third collection, experimenting with form and turning convention on its head.” The Poetry Question “Smith is a poet of profound abundance and empathy.” 4Columns “Profoundly moving. . . . Smith writes with both power and precision, and their poetic forms are as diverse as their topics. . . . Their personal style mixes modern slang with gorgeous imagery, resulting in verse as colorful and fanciful as Pablo Neruda but also savvy, down-to-earth, close to the heart. . . . [ Homie] is filled with passion and humanity and demonstrates why Smith has been called one of the best poets of their generation.” Shelf Awareness “An electrifying, unabashedly queer ode to friendship and community. . . . Smith is a visionary polyglot with a fearless voice.” “A collection as dazzling as it is bighearted. . . . Dynamic, breathtaking, and utterly brilliant, these poems are not only most magnificent weapons but also salves to share and songs to shout at the top of one’s lungs. A transcendent collection sure to bolster Smith’s status as a poetry icon.” Publishers Weekly, starred review Booklist, starred review “This book reads as gospel, as righteous text that carves a religion out of friendship. . . . Blessed be Danez Smith, for allowing us that closeness. . . . Smith holds genius in them, and we are lucky that they choose to share it with us so abundantly.” Fatimah Asghar “Oh, Nezzy. The world doesn’t deserve this bookthis fierce abundance, this indomitable tenderbut we need it, desperately. Danez Smith has always been the most talented voice of our generation, but it’s here, in their third collection, that their virtuosic abilities are matched by the ambitiousness of their heart. Here, they’ve built a table big enough to hold all of it: the small shames that accompany grief, the ecstasy of chosen kinship, ‘your people, my people, all that has happened / to us.’ Homie is a book that takes to heart what Che Guevara said, ‘At the risk of sounding ridiculous, let me say that the true revolutionary is guided by a great feeling of love.’ That Danez is willing to take this risk is one of the great fortunes of my life.” Franny Choi “ Homie is how we survivein verse. . . . For Danez, friendship is a forest ripe with foliage and possibility. . . . They offer us poems of seed and breath, charging us to reimagine the world as inhabitable and safe in this skin and these bodies beckoning us back to dirt.” Tish Jones