Danez Smith



A powerful new collection reckoning with America, protest and poetry itself


‘A writer who never loses their way’ New York Times

A searing new collection from the Forward Prize-winning American poet about the year that the world’s gaze turned to Minneapolis – Smith's own home.

Written after two years of artistic silence, during which the world came to a halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic and Minneapolis became the epicentre of protest following the murder of George Floyd, Bluff is Danez Smith’s powerful reckoning with their role and responsibility as a poet and with their hometown. This is a book of awakening out of violence, guilt, shame and critical pessimism to imagine how we can strive towards a new existence in a world that seems to be dissolving into desolate futures.

Smith brings a startling urgency to these poems, their questions demanding a new language, a deep self-scrutiny and virtuosic textual shapes. A series of ars poetica gives way to ‘anti poetica’ and ‘ars america’ to implicate poetry’s collusions with unchecked capitalism. A brilliant long poem maps the history of Minneapolis-Saint Paul’s vibrant Rondo neighbourhood before and after officials decided to run an interstate directly through it.

Bluff is a manifesto about artistic resilience when the places we most love – those given and made – are burning. In this collection, Smith turns to honesty, hope, rage and imagination to envision futures that seem possible.

‘A poet of exceptional linguistic exuberance, style and grace’ Kayo Chingonyi

‘Smith writes towards the abundant and the difficult and makes something that is rare – a piece of art that refuses self-consciousness and is exactly what it wants to be’ Raven Leilani on Homie

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