Black Movie
Poetry. African American Studies. These harrowing poems make montage, make mirrors, make elegiac biopic, make "a dope ass trailer with a hundred black children/ smiling into the camera & the last shot is the wide mouth of a pistol." That's no spoiler alert, but rather, Smith's way saying & laying it beautifully bare. A way of desensitizing the reader from his own defenses each time this long, black movie repeats."

Black Movie Details

TitleBlack Movie
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseAug 2nd, 2019
PublisherButton Poetry
Rating
GenrePoetry, Race, LGBT, GLBT, Queer, Cultural, African American

Black Movie Review

  • leynes
    January 1, 1970
    Danez Smith is my new favorite poet. I am so happy that I discovered their work. I cannot wait to see how they learn and grow in future years to come. Just by comparing Black Movie (2015) to Don't Call Us Dead (2017), I noticed such a shift and jump in craftsmanship. I am in awe. Danez grew from being angry and angry and angry and loud and frustrated and angry to still being all of those things, yet using their poetry as a vehicle for healing, for hope, for re-imagining a future in which Black b Danez Smith is my new favorite poet. I am so happy that I discovered their work. I cannot wait to see how they learn and grow in future years to come. Just by comparing Black Movie (2015) to Don't Call Us Dead (2017), I noticed such a shift and jump in craftsmanship. I am in awe. Danez grew from being angry and angry and angry and loud and frustrated and angry to still being all of those things, yet using their poetry as a vehicle for healing, for hope, for re-imagining a future in which Black boys and girls are not shot dead in the streets. The vision had definitely already been there in Black Movie but their execution was definitely a lot messier back in 2015. To understand this collection in particular, you need to know the political and social climate in which it was conceived. For Danez Smith, being Black and having been born and raised in St. Paul, Minnesota, questions of race (and their queer identity) have almost been part of their daily bread. You cannot escape who you are. Nonetheless, 2014 was a pretty significant year in Black America's struggle for equality and justice. In 2013, the Black Lives Matter movement began with the use of the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter on social media after the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of African-American teen Trayvon Martin in February 2012. Black Lives Matter became nationally recognized for its street demonstrations following the 2014 deaths of two African Americans: Michael Brown—resulting in protests and unrest in Ferguson—and Eric Garner in New York City. All of the cases of injustice that have been unearthed in that year. All the discussions about racial profiling and police brutality. It is crystal clear that Danez wrote from a place of anger, and of fear. They don't want your attention or your pity or your praise. They want change. Watching Danez perform their poetry on YouTube made me realize that even more. Powerful doesn't begin to describe it. They're loud. They're yelling. They want to be heard because they want change. If you have it in you, watch Danez perform Dear White America and Dinosaurs in the Hood, two of their most powerful and visceral poems, both of which are included in Black Movie and Don't Call Us Dead, too. Black Movie is a poetry collection with an incredibly original concepts, I've never heard of anything similar. Danez took it upon himself to reimagine iconic films (such as Sleeping Beauty, The Lion King, Jeus Christ, Superstar) in a Black context. What would those movies have looked liked had they been about the Black experiences, about Black boys and girls? How many of its protagonists would be allowed to grow old? 5. Song: Be Preparedfor the stampede of tiny lead beastfor the jury not to flinchfor the hands, wild in your wildless hairfor the darkest toll, your double down to get halffor the man, ecstatic with triggersto spread your legs while they search for drugs therefor the drug there, for their mouths to ask that big questionto hear your history told to you over & over & overfor it never to change. I did not expect expect Black Movie to pull as much of a punch as it did. This collection gave me goosebumps, it made me cry, it made me angry, it made me want to throw up (because of course I couldn't help myself but look up every single case of injustice that they references in their work...) and overall left me feeling defeated. I alluded to at the beginning of my review, I am beyond happy to see how Danez has somewhat grown out of this dark and depressing state, and that they allowed to let a bit more of light into their life and their work, the titular poem of their new collection Don't Call Us Dead is the most haunting yet hopeful poem I've read in a while. The perfect blend between acknowledging the trauma and still finding the strength to carry on. I genuinely think that Black Movie made their new reflections possible. Danez had to get all of their anger out, all of the screams and cries that had swelled up inside of them for years. This collection includes some of the most chilling lines I've ever encountered in modern poetry. Lines that will make your stomach turn. Danez imagines a scene of a "portrait of a Black boy with flowers / & he is not in a casket", not does he "bring flowers / to his best friend's wake, / nor does he give them / to a woman who will / grieve him one day", because sometimes Black boys are just chilling in their aunts garden, and are not dying on the streets. Danez Smith challenges the media outlets and films that devalue and misrepresent the Black community in the US. Danez Smith is one of the most gifted writers that I've ever read from. I need to read their first collection ASAP.
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  • Michael
    January 1, 1970
    My full review, as well as my other thoughts on reading, can be found on my blog.Interested in adapting cinematic techniques into poetry, as well as playing with the conventions of popular genres, the experimental poems of Black Movie examine topics such as police brutality, Black rage, and collective trauma through the lens of film. The versatile range Danez exhibits in this slim volume is astounding, as is the fact that they wrote it while still earning their MFA.
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  • Grace
    January 1, 1970
    "Besides, the only reason I want to make this is for that first scene anyway:little black boy on the bus with a toy dinosaur,his eyes wide & endlesshis dreams possible, pulsing, & right there."This collection destroyed me. Utter perfection. So looking forward to Danez Smith's new collection in September.
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  • Bri
    January 1, 1970
    Perfect perfect perfect. Tragic and lovely and imaginative. My favorites are the Lion King poems, Dear White America, and Secret Garden.
  • Laura Noggle
    January 1, 1970
    Difficult to read; thought provoking.POLITICS OF ELEGY... if I writethe name of this new not hereis that the line? what if I write itwith quill & wound? I’ve trappedso many boys in poems.My mouth is an unmarked graveabove which flowers bloomto sing the deador it is just my mouth.
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  • Bobbieshiann
    January 1, 1970
    “in the film, townsfolk name themselves Prince Charming,queue up to wake the sleeping beauty.let’s name her jamal. let’s make her everyone’s brother or play cousin. all the princes press a kiss to jamal’s wax-dipped lips.all the princes sing songs & kill dragons but jamal won’t wake up.you mad? this ain’t no kid flick. there is no magic here. the fairies get killed too. the kingdom has no king. all the red in this cartoon is painted with blood: the apples, the velvet robes, jamal’s cold mout “in the film, townsfolk name themselves Prince Charming,queue up to wake the sleeping beauty.let’s name her jamal. let’s make her everyone’s brother or play cousin. all the princes press a kiss to jamal’s wax-dipped lips.all the princes sing songs & kill dragons but jamal won’t wake up.you mad? this ain’t no kid flick. there is no magic here. the fairies get killed too. the kingdom has no king. all the red in this cartoon is painted with blood: the apples, the velvet robes, jamal’s cold mouth”.
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  • Anne
    January 1, 1970
    This book is devastating. It shattered me and then filled me with light.
  • Merritt K.
    January 1, 1970
    Tight and strong and kept running smooth and jagged by the metaphors of film and repetition -- Smith plays with style and structure to produce a huge range of work in a slender volume. "Why does Disney remind us / what we have learned: / - one black light swallows another so easy / - killing is unavoidable as death / - the king's throne is wet with his brother's blood / - the queen suffers too but gets no name"
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  • Kaz
    January 1, 1970
    Stunning, in the sense of beauty and its ability to make you pause, make your breath catch. I love that nothing is held back, the poems are raw and painful and direct, but also refined and purposeful. Each word is intentional, each poem necessary, and they all build on and talk to one another all the way through. Required reading, especially for white people.
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  • Leigh
    January 1, 1970
    Danez Smith's poetry made me cry. It's the type of writing that makes me want to read it over and over again, until I have it memorized, until I can recite it on demand. He has beautiful, sad, powerful imagery. Everyone should read this collection.
  • Kendall Berdinsky
    January 1, 1970
    one of the most beautiful & important things i've ever read.
  • Adam
    January 1, 1970
    This chapbook has thirteen poems, thirteen poems that rip your throat out with harrowing realism and brilliant control of language. This was the easiest five stars I’ve ever slapped on a book. It’s a tiny book but it’s a tiny masterpiece. A tiny book with colossal impact.
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  • Chris
    January 1, 1970
    I’m not normally a poetry reader, but occasionally I venture into the territory when I have a gut feeling about a particular collection. This spontaneous birthday book purchase was truly worth the investment.This poetry book contains some truly searing poems—lovely and angry and potent and gut-wrenching. Smith’s poems spoke to the world we live in, and our collective societal failure of imagination to create a better media, better representations, better institutions, and a better life for all o I’m not normally a poetry reader, but occasionally I venture into the territory when I have a gut feeling about a particular collection. This spontaneous birthday book purchase was truly worth the investment.This poetry book contains some truly searing poems—lovely and angry and potent and gut-wrenching. Smith’s poems spoke to the world we live in, and our collective societal failure of imagination to create a better media, better representations, better institutions, and a better life for all of our citizens. His collection cried out in anger and sadness at the futility of our system of racism. I saw myself in the white audience and felt shame. Smith’s poetry made me re-examine myself.If I had been given this poetry in high school, perhaps I would’ve learned to like poetry more at a much younger age. Poetry collections like this should be taught in Civics with the current events curriculum.My particular favorites were “Lion King in the Hood”, “Short Film” (particularly “v. who has time for joy?”), “Dear White America”, “Notes for a Film on Black Joy”, and “Dinosaurs in the Hood”.
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  • Stewart Lindstrom
    January 1, 1970
    Smith's poetry is always thought-provoking, empathetic and urgent. Don't Call Us Dead was the best book of poetry I read this year, and Black Movie , while shorter, provides more of the same. Their use of form remains as inventive and entertaining as always, even as their imagery, bound to many of the same metaphors as their other work, can at times feel a bit stale.
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  • Paisley Green
    January 1, 1970
    Confession: about two years ago, I picked up a few poetry collections from Button Poetry in a sale. This and Hanif Abdurraqib's poetry collection were two of them. Classic grad student, I didn't read Black Movie until now, but I wish I had. It was a real treat to unpack after moving and go, "Hey, I have Danez Smith on my shelf!" I didn't know who they were until about a year ago, but this had been sitting on my shelf, waiting for the right time. Black Movie is beautiful, powerful, poignant, and Confession: about two years ago, I picked up a few poetry collections from Button Poetry in a sale. This and Hanif Abdurraqib's poetry collection were two of them. Classic grad student, I didn't read Black Movie until now, but I wish I had. It was a real treat to unpack after moving and go, "Hey, I have Danez Smith on my shelf!" I didn't know who they were until about a year ago, but this had been sitting on my shelf, waiting for the right time. Black Movie is beautiful, powerful, poignant, and surprising. It has some of the same stylistic qualities that Don't Call Us Dead does, but I feel it's more raw in some places. (Side note: in the bio, it says that Danez Smith was, at the time, an MFA candidate. The talent! Dear lord.) Every poem is a highlight, and every line does something to me. I loved this collection, and I'll be glad to come back to my shelves and visit these poems again multiple times.
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  • Athena Lathos
    January 1, 1970
    4.5* Black Movie contains several incredibly beautiful and necessary poems about racist violence, police brutality, gender, sexuality, and family. "The Secret Garden in the Hood," "Dear White America," and "Notes for a Film on Black Joy" stunned me with their capacity to weave vulnerable, personal narration and a historical consciousness together in the imaginative forms of flower types, film proposals, and letters. I wasn't crazy about some of the stylistic choices here ( for example, the frequ 4.5* Black Movie contains several incredibly beautiful and necessary poems about racist violence, police brutality, gender, sexuality, and family. "The Secret Garden in the Hood," "Dear White America," and "Notes for a Film on Black Joy" stunned me with their capacity to weave vulnerable, personal narration and a historical consciousness together in the imaginative forms of flower types, film proposals, and letters. I wasn't crazy about some of the stylistic choices here ( for example, the frequent ampersands broke up the rhythmic beauty of Smith's words for me), but the powerful content of these pieces ultimately made my minor aesthetic preferences largely unimportant. I have read that Smith has a background in slam poetry, and I feel like I can feel the energy of the slam form in every painful, moving stanza in this book.
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  • Lauren
    January 1, 1970
    I first encountered Danez Smith's work when I became involved with Yes Yes books as an author. Since then, I've become quite a fan of his work. "Black Movie" is all the things you want in a volume of poetry: poignant, well-crafted, and tragically, tragically, tragically funny. Funny like a death row inmate dying of a stroke while being strapped into the chair. I've already incorporated one poem from this volume into a lesson on poetry analysis, and hope to use many more in the future. Smith is a I first encountered Danez Smith's work when I became involved with Yes Yes books as an author. Since then, I've become quite a fan of his work. "Black Movie" is all the things you want in a volume of poetry: poignant, well-crafted, and tragically, tragically, tragically funny. Funny like a death row inmate dying of a stroke while being strapped into the chair. I've already incorporated one poem from this volume into a lesson on poetry analysis, and hope to use many more in the future. Smith is a master.
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  • Jeff Crompton
    January 1, 1970
    This Danez Smith book of poetry is described on the back cover as "harrowing," and it is that and more. These poems are Smith's responses to the horror show that is black life in America, and they are painful to read. But Smith's talent makes for compelling art. Every white person who, like me, told himself for years that he/(she) wasn't racist needs to read this collection.
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  • Will
    January 1, 1970
    Smith's 2015 chapbook packs a freaking punch. As do all of Smith's poems. I know that I will be ruminating over the last lines for weeks. Smith has a gift of situating powerful stories and words within cultural tropes and images that are all too familiar. They completely turn the reader's expectations on their heads. A chapbook must have!
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  • brittany
    January 1, 1970
    Danez has been my favorite poet I’ve read this year. His writing and the messages in his poems resonate with me so deeply I am always emotional after engaging with his work. I bought this collection because I am already a fan of Dinosaurs in the Hood I am most definitely going to give this a reread because there is A LOT to unpack here.
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  • Michael
    January 1, 1970
    Oh, I loved this collection of poems. I had read one awhile back, but this whole collection knocked me out. Painful, powerful, direct and true. These poems are embodied. They are poems that are human. They are poems that are black human. They are poems that are black gay human. Powerful, powerful - mainly short poems. I loved this collection.
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  • Nancy
    January 1, 1970
    I read this standing up and felt my chest get tight. I did not want to sit down. (Lion King recast, especially, for me.) The music is solid; the rage, too. These poems do not try to clean up the mess of us. I need this.
  • Rachel
    January 1, 1970
    5 stars -- powerful & beautifully written
  • Eduardo Bello
    January 1, 1970
    A must read in modern English poetry.
  • mis fit
    January 1, 1970
    damn!
  • John Madera
    January 1, 1970
    Mournful, mordant, and terrifying, Danez Smith's Black Movie is impressive in its formal disruptions and in its musical repetitions, perfect reading for these terrible days, in other words.
  • Abril
    January 1, 1970
    I really liked the message and the concept of the poetry, but the formatting didn’t sit well with me
  • Zahraa Maytham
    January 1, 1970
    "how longdoes it takea storyto becomea legend?how long beforea legendbecomes a god or forgotten?ask the rainwhat it waslike to be the riverthen askwho it drowned."
  • Hizatul Akmah
    January 1, 1970
    in one poem, he mentioned about a girl who came up to him and told him that she loved his poems and he was wondering if the girl meant about the misery or how he portrayed himself as whatever she wanted to see. so, now i'm not gonna say i love this but everything he wrote hit all the right places and he didn't even bulge from speaking only the truth. everyone should read this, period.
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  • Hannah Facknitz
    January 1, 1970
    " Kevin, 19, doesn't hangout far from his headstone.He is the greenest grassin a graveyard that readslike an attendance sheet." -The Secret Garden in the HoodI'm not sure I can put into words how incredible this chapbook is. Danez Smith does something truly incredible, something I think readers will agree only great literature does. He tells the truth. Some may view his poetry as political, but in fact his work is simply a vivid portrayal of lives made political. He is not coming down on one sid " Kevin, 19, doesn't hangout far from his headstone.He is the greenest grassin a graveyard that readslike an attendance sheet." -The Secret Garden in the HoodI'm not sure I can put into words how incredible this chapbook is. Danez Smith does something truly incredible, something I think readers will agree only great literature does. He tells the truth. Some may view his poetry as political, but in fact his work is simply a vivid portrayal of lives made political. He is not coming down on one side or the other of a divide. He is telling you the truth of his experience, that his life is forever endangered, traumatized, and changed because of the color of his skin.This tiny book, only 40 pages long, is packed to bursting. At points I found myself weeping, but then a page later Danez Smith challenged my tears, forcing me to ask myself if I was crying the unproductive and pointless "white tears" that currently plague our discussion of race in this country. Every poem strikes like a hammer blow, but Smith is a true artist, approaching each subject with equal parts finesse and raw, emotional power.I believe he is attempting to address white people. One piece is titled "Dear White America," which specifically addresses both the violence and apathy we've directed towards black American for four hundred years. The only salvation Smith can imagine from our failures (speaking as a white American) is to imagine a separate world, far distant among other stars "where [his] kin can be safe, where black people ain't but people the same color as the good, wet earth."Thank you, Danez Smith. We have work to do.For more reviews like this, please visit my blog http://hannahandthewolf.wordpress.com
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