Danez Smith is a Black, Queer, Poz writer and performer from St. Paul. Danez is the author of Don’t Call Us Dead (Graywolf Press, 2017)—winner of the Forward Prize for Best Collection, the Midwest Booksellers Choice Award, and a finalist for the National Book Award—and [insert] boy (YesYes Books, 2014), winner of the Kate Tufts Discovery Award and the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry. They are the recipient of fellowships from the Poetry Foundation, the McKnight Foundation, Cave Canem, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Danez’s work has been featured widely including on Buzzfeed, The New York Times, PBS NewsHour, Best American Poetry, Poetry Magazine, and on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Danez is a member of the Dark Noise Collective and is the co-host, with Franny Choi, of VS, a podcast sponsored by the Poetry Foundation and Postloudness. Danez’s third collection, Homie, will be published by Graywolf in Spring 2020.
The best 41 minutes of my year was the first time I listened to Saba’s second album CARE FOR ME. In 10 tracks, Saba delivers equal measures of ear-porn and sonic lament, certified bops that will ruin you if you lean into the lyrics. The near 8-minute masterpiece “PROM / KING,” a celebration and elegy for his cousin Walter, is one of the most impressive examples of the narrative possibilities of hop-hop I’ve heard in a minute, plus besides the lush songwriting, withheld instrumentation, and rip-your-heart-to-confetti love of the song, the shit slaps.
Maybe I’m late, but I’m glad I’m here. I first peeped the two queer superheroes who make up Izell Pyramid. Their music is like the auto-tuned hymns playing when you are smoking several fat blunts over at Jesus’s house, something like that. I spent a good few months of this year hiding inside of their song “Laputian Crisis” and following them around the Cities whenever I catch work that they’ll be on stage.
American Poetry is going thru a renaissance. Act like you know. Here is a decent, tho incomplete, place to start. For 2019, I say the books you should check out if you are just coming into this poetry moment are the forthcoming collections from Franny Choi, Morgan Parker, Jericho Brown, Ilya Kaminsky, and Harmony Holiday, just to name a few. Publisher’s Weekly got a spring preview here.
Eve Ewing is everything. She a hero. She writes about heroes too. Her new Marvel series Ironheart is your new fav. Her poetry is to live for. Her newest book will save the world, or at least the schools.
In a political moment where all the conservative white men have sold the country to the Russians and most of the liberal white men ain’t worth a damn either, finally someone we can stan alongside Queen Maxine. Plus, her tweets are, like, great.
JUSTIN TORRES’S WE THE ANIMALS
So it’s a movie now, but you should read the book first ’cause Justin Torres really wrote his fucking ass off. To this day (TO THIS DAY!) it’s one of the best books to ever book, and Jeremiah Zagar’s film somehow captures the lyric intelligence of the novel and transports it to the screen. Even at its hardest moments, the film is an absolute delight to take in. With our combined prayers, it will be on the Netflix next year.
POSE ON FX
Bitch. Have you seen this show yet? Let me tell you how I cried every episode: I cried every episode. Mostly it would be Billy Porter, Indya Moore, or MJ Rodriguez’s fault when I found myself my weepiest, but every corner of this show felt like life, like permission, like a history bright and not divorced from its future, like real life queer niggas on TV. Give it all the Emmys.
HEAVY BY KIESE LAYMON
Ok, so like many of my fav rappers, there is the whole “why don’t the dumbass shut their dumb homophobic mouth so I can stan?” element to contend with now, but getting put on to the music of the City Girls this year was a blessing and a half. There nothing about their album “Period” that I don’t like. Hood. Full of bops. Twerk inducing. Using men. How could you not love it?
WHITE PEOPLE’S RICH ILLEGAL MESS
…and as we turn to 2019, I look forward to sitting back with several varieties of Cheetos and watching the entire executive branch of the government go to jail. Cheers, friends.