In the Fall semester, we have a very solidified series called Sherman Chaddlesone Arts and Letters Lecture Series, and for a while, we’ve known we wanted something in the Spring. Where our Sherman Chaddlesone series features Native Americans, our Alexander Lawrence Posey Series will feature artists who represent otherness that so often may not be spoken for. This is in an effort to combat erasure and the silencing of diminished voices. Our inaugural event on March 30th will feature Danez Smith.
*Danez Smith is a Black, queer, poz writer & performer from St. Paul, MN. Danez is the author of [insert] boy (YesYes Books, 2014), winner of the Kate Tufts Discovery Award and the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry, and Don’t Call Us Dead (Graywolf Press, 2017). Danez is also the author of two chapbooks, hands on your knees (2013, Penmanship Books) and black movie (2015, Button Poetry), winner of the Button Poetry Prize. They are the recipient of fellowships from the Poetry Foundation, the McKnight Foundation, and is a 2017 National Endowment for the Arts Fellow. Danez’s work has been featured widely including in on Buzzfeed, Blavity, PBS NewsHour, and on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert. They are a 2-time Individual World Poetry Slam finalist, 3-time Rustbelt Poetry Slam Champion, and a founding member of the Dark Noise Collective.
Danez was featured in American Academy of Poet’s Emerging Writers Series by National Book Award Finalist Patricia Smith. Like her, Danez bridges the poetics of the stage to that of the page. Danez’s work transcends arbitrary boundaries to present work that is gripping, dismantling of oppression constructs, and striking on the human heart. Often centered around intersections of race, class, sexuality, faith, and social justice, Danez uses rhythm, fierce raw power, and image to re-imagine the world as takes it apart in their work.*
I first discovered Smith’s poetry in UCO’s Ethnic American Literature course instructed by Dr. Iliana Rocha last fall. We watched the performance of the poem, “Dinosaurs in the Hood,” below:
“For once, nobody kills the black boy.”
More videos, as well as links to their published work, can be found here on their website.
To say we are excited for Danez’s appearance and performance is an understatement, but WE ARE SO EXCITED!
For those who can make it (free to the public), Danez will perform at the Pegasus Theatre in the Liberal Arts Building at the University of Central Oklahoma. The event begins at 6:00pm with refreshments following.
*Quoted from Smith’s website.