Reviews

  • "Tremendously moving, an exalting and longed-for acknowledgement of historical pain ... Smith’s ability to look death squarely in the eye and seize from it language that is fertile with myth, beauty and intellect is astonishing"

    Sandeep Parmar, The Guardian
  • "A powerful and moving read. Smith pays tribute to the young black men America has lost to police shootings, racism and injustice, and writes disarmingly about life and sex with HIV, all in a restless verse"

    Maria Crawford, Financial Times, **Books of the Year**
  • "Haunting … This material is necessarily bleak, but Smith’s mercurial invention means it’s never merely grim … The visionary 23-page opener, “summer, somewhere” […] is something truly remarkable; a song from a sunlit afterlife, an “unpopular heaven” for black boys killed young, all delivered in taut couplets …Memorable, moving and imbued with moral purpose. I read and re-read this collection (particularly its opening poem) over several weeks… “summer, somewhere” is, by any measure, a brilliant poem"

    Tristram Fane Saunders, The Telegraph, Poetry book of the month
  • "[Danez Smith’s] poems are enriched to the point of volatility, but they pay out, often, in sudden joythey also know the magic trick of making writing on the page operate like the most ecstatic speech. And they are, in their cadences and management of lines, deeply literary. I hear Gerard Manley Hopkins, the Jesuit priest who jury-rigged his verse to express personal turmoil, and Hart Crane, whose gentleness was expressed in an American idiom full of thunderclap, and Allen Ginsberg, who loved and learned from them both. The addition of Smith’s star turns a random cluster of points into a constellation, the way new work of this calibre always does… In this moving, unsettling work, the question is not simply one of craft. It’s about how the body and its authority can be manifested in writing, with only the spindly trace of letters to stand in for it"

    Dan Chiasson, The New Yorker

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