The first time I met Danez Smith (they/them), they asked me if I was IT. I promise that this is not something I should ever be confused for. I have mad respect for any IT person – because I know NOTHING about fixing computers. Any fixing I’ve ever managed has been total dumb luck (or via tips from my dear friend, Cody, who is my go-to for all things tech-related – for which I both thank and apologize).
That day, I was just me being me – arriving earlier than most people. I was not IT – I was there for their craft talk on long forms of poetry for UntitledTown, Green Bay’s Book and Author Festival. But in full honesty – they could have been planning to read from the phone book, and I would have gone. I’ve been a fan of Smith’s poetry for some time, and I was happy to study at their feet.
Smith was also the keynote poet for UntitledTown that year, and we were granted a chance to spend an hour in the same space as them reciting poetry – and it was pure magic. I got literal goosebumps.
Smith has four books: Homie, Don’t Call Us Dead, [Insert] Boy, and Black Movie. There are links for all of them on Smith’s website, as well as a collection of recordings of their poetry. They also co-host the bi-weekly VS podcast with poet Franny Choi, which is presented by the Poetry Foundation. You can follow them on Instagram and Twitter.