My first module of the academic year is US Cultures and #BlackLivesMatter. There are some fantastic books on this course e.g. The Underground Railroad, Sing, Unburied, Sing and Homegoing. However, this week was poetry and I read Don’t call us Dead by Danez Smith. He is a Black, queer man who is HIV positive and explores all these parts of himself through his work.
Smith’s poems have some very hard hitting messages to impart with regards to the issues Black men in America face today and it is fair to say that as a result they will not be for everyone. I wasn’t keen on his more frank poems about his sex life but it was interesting to read his emotions on discovering he was HIV positive and how he has dealt with this.
There are several videos on YouTube of Smith reading his poems and I reckon they are better listened to than read. His delivery is often angry but he can also be very funny. Watching him made me appreciate the poems more.
My two favourite poems of his are ‘dinosaurs in the hood‘ and ‘oooooh, you look like‘ (at 0.53) (word of warning there is bad language in these videos so please don’t watch if you are easily offended).