“i’m sick of pretending to give a shit about what whypeepo think”

A Poem From Danez Smith, Who Has Just Won the UK's Forward Prize

September 21, 2018  By Danez Smith

Danez Smith has just become the youngest ever winner of the UK’s Forward Prize.


“i’m sick of pretending to give a shit about what whypeepo think”

on the best days, i don’t remember their skin
the kingdom & doom of it, their coy relationship to sunlight

band-aids are the color of the ones who make the wound
& whats a band-aid to a bullet to the rent is sky high & we

gotta move?

i have no desire to desire what they apparently have
i want quiet & peace & enough weed to last through Saturday

so now that we’re done talking about them, do you think
its appropriate to call that nigga Obama a nigga in public?

i have accepted that they who is always they will always be
looking so what’s the use in holding back my black cackle

& juke? what’s the purpose in being black if you have to spend
it trying to prove all the ways your not? i’m done with race

hahahaha could you imagine if it was what easy? to just say
i’m done & all the scars turn into ravens

the trees forget their blood memory & the city
lose all it’s teeth? when people say they’re post race

i think they’re saying their done with black people
done with immigrants, officially believing America

began when the white people demanded their freedom
from the other white people i’m post America in that case

i’m so far in the future i’m on the beaches of Illinois
southern coast of a has been empire

telling my grandkids about the dust that use to rule us


The preceding is from the Freeman’s channel at Literary Hub, which features excerpts from the print editions of Freeman’s, along with supplementary writing from contributors past, present and future. The latest issue of Freeman’s, a special edition gathered around the theme of power, featuring work by Margaret Atwood, Elif Shafak, Eula Biss, Aleksandar Hemon and Aminatta Forna, among others, is published October 17th.

Danez Smith
Danez Smith
Danez Smith is the author of Don’t Call Us Dead, winner of the Forward Prize for Best Collection and a finalist for the National Book Award, and [insert] boy, winner of the Kate Tufts Discovery Award. They live in Minneapolis. Their latest poetry collection, Homie , is available now from Graywolf.

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