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[insert] boy

4.57  ·  Rating details ·  873 ratings  ·  104 reviews
The next time someone tells you spoken word poets can’t make poems come to life on the page, send them to Danez Smith’s [insert] boy, a remarkable debut collection that puts that tired notion to bed once and for all. In these poems, Smith opens the reader to a world of desire, longing, and deep mourning that picks up where his brothers Hopkins and Whitman left off. Startli ...more
Paperback, 116 pages
Published December 20th 2014 by YesYes Books
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Average rating 4.57  · 
Rating details
 ·  873 ratings  ·  104 reviews

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Dec 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own, poetry, favorites
"If I play dead, will I be acting my age?"
Feb 09, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: black-writers
[insert] boy (2014) is Danez Smith's debut collection. Since I absolutely loved their later work, I knew that I wanted to support them as a poet as much as I could. I didn't have the highest expectations for [insert] boy, as I had already seen a huge jump in craftsmanship from their earlier work in Black Movie (2015) to their most recent collection Don't Call Us Dead (2017), and thus knew that Danez had a lot of growing to do as a writer. I didn't expect [insert] boy to have the same emotional p ...more
Paris (parisperusing)
"Mama told you to hit anybody who hits you first. you walked outside throwing fist at air. this is how you fight the world back. vaseline making a diamond of your skin & nobody saying you're pretty. grow up, throw knuckle & metal into boys down the block or round the corner. race to make each other more ugly, less diamond, more dead. a cold black boy body is a prophecy fulfilled. you have always been a dying thing." — "For Black Boys," Danez Smith

So many of us black queer boys are born into this
Peter LaBerge
Oct 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Thank God for good poetry. Thank God for good poetry collections that leave necessary emotion in their wake, and thank God for poets like Danez Smith, who—through his debut Lambda Literary Award-winning poetry collection [insert] boy—demonstrates that what is political should be openly approached in personal terms, and vice versa. In [insert] boy, Smith ignites a discussion about life as a queer person of color in today’s racially charged, orientation conscious society. Through the arteries of m ...more
To check out my reviews:

I love spoken word poetry and I have discovered Danez Smith poetry multiples times both in personal and academic life. Fortunately I had to read this book for my Queer Studies class and I was in complete awe over his writing and how powerful his imagery is when talking about race, being gay, abuse, and falling in love. I have never written a review for a book of poetry and I cannot really describe into words the profound impact I'v
Feb 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: poets; psychologists
Shelves: poetry
This is a powerful book with a great title. [Insert] Boy is the key to reading each of the sections in the book: [Black], [Papa's lil'], [Ruined], [Rent], [Lover], and [Again] Boy.

He writes of black boys and men and of being gay. One of his well known poems is "Alternate Names for Black Boys" in which we see a broader spectrum of methaphors possible for black boys, outside the standard views from the outside, a few include: first son of soil, oil heavy starlight, a mother's joy and clutched bre
Jul 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: lgbtqia, race, sex-work, poetry
This is a really amazing collection. Speaking on race, sex work, and American politics, almost every single one of these poems felt the need to be read at least 3 times. I cannot speak highly enough for this book. Some favorite/poignant poems are:

"& My Mother Notices Someone Else's Blood On My Hands"

"All Spring, We'd Watch Grandpa Rub His Knee And Complain About Rain"

"The Road Kill & My Body"

"The Business of Shadows"

"10 Rentboy Commandments" (respect or groceries?)

"Song of Wreckage"

"On Grace"

Jan 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
I swear! This is the second book that I have read from Danez Smith and they have shot up to being one of my favorite poets ever! They may even be my all time favorite. Although this is rated lower than their previous book that I have read, this is still amazing! I could feel the elegance, the rawness, everything. I felt so much!
Tara Fredenburg
Feb 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I genuinely don't think I have the words to express how much I love Danez Smith's writing. I've read two of his collections so far, and I think I'm hooked for life. (And I don't consider myself a big poetry reader, either. He's incredibly accessible.)
Jan 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I am not a big reader of poetry so I feel quite out of my depth. These collections just feel strong though, grappling with a world full of violence against black bodies, discussing being gay, and being HIV positive. Full of moments far outside my experience and yet reading them, the ground shook. Most of all I’m going to be forever thinking about their poem Genesissy, which imagines God in the next week after the Genesis creation myth, being fierce and grieving for the way humanity will come to ...more
Jan 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing

This poetry collection twists and turns, and goes very dark places, but also beautiful places.

I was expecting the parts about police brutality and the stark death rates of black men. I was not expecting the gruesome and brutal portrayals of orgies and sex work fond within some scenes.
I felt uncomfortable reading parts of this, like I was reading someone's diary.

I was extremely uncomfortable reading about the different brutal sex work acts, but I also realize that this is not a rare avenue
Oct 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
I don't think I could be any more enthusiastic right now about a book of poetry. This is one beautiful, haunting, unsettling collection of poems, and it definitely has potential to become a major favourite.

There are hints of Walt Whitman, Sylvia Plath, and June Jordan—and on top of that, Smith is a captivating spoken word artist. It was actually Smith's performance of "Dear White America" (which does not appear in this volume) that made me seek out more of their work, and I'm so glad I did. In t
Ann Marie
Mar 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
One of the most beautiful & powerful collections of poetry that I've read. ...more
Aug 21, 2019 added it
Shelves: 2019, 2019-poetry
good, easy read. a collection that kinda impressed me by virtue of not being explosive or shiny; just quietly flawless. i liked that this collection was themed/chaptered. stylistically i really liked this collection !!! it was in that category of slam-ish, post-crush-ish poetry that feels like the *primary* play is in splaying out the Core of the poem as accurately as possible (expressive poetry?), as opposed to tucking it in between images such that the Core is derived by the reader connecting ...more
May 02, 2018 rated it liked it
Some of these poems I loved. Some of them I feared, although likely through no fault of their own.

For about the first half of the collection, I felt something in me soften and shift. There was a true tenderness in the lines, and especially between the lines when the stanzas were few and far between. But in the second half, I recoiled and held my breath more often than not. I reproach myself for it, but I also don't know why I feel obligated to be more receptive to stark poems about prostitution
Mar 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Dear Danez Smith, Please save some talent for the rest of us. Thank you.

But seriously, I read--no devoured--DON'T CALL US DEAD in an hour, over breakfast. After picking up pieces of my mind that Smith had blown out of my head, I decided to read his first book (I had sworn off first books or at least I had sworn off reading them first, which is a policy to which I think I will continue to adhere), expecting that it might be overhyped and too spoken word for my taste. But nope. It's good. Damn goo
Jul 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
I'm trying to read more poetry, to understand and appreciate it more; so glad I read this collection. Smith's language and style are beautiful, searing, angry, evocative, subversive, inspiring; loved their descriptions and metaphors, 'Song of the Wreckage' ' King the Color of Space,' 'Genesissy,' and 'On Grace' are the top four I'll be revisiting and reflecting on. Looking forward to reading more of their work!
Patti K
Jun 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
A 2014 collection of poetry by the poet Danez Smith who
earned an MFA from the University of Michigan and has gone
on to become a rising voice in black queer poetics. He does spoken
poetry slam work as well and the physicality of his voice in all his
work is dominant. This volume is driven by reflections on desire
and the body wanting some kind of immortality even in the face
of death. Inventive strong language declaims itself in this and later
work. A book to be reckoned with.
Eva Puyuelo
Jun 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
"How many black boys stolen in the hot night? From their own homes? From their own bodies? How many black boys until we make history?"

Seldom before have I read such moving, powerful, realistic, and revealing poetry. Danez Smith succeeds in constructing a story of brutality, injustice and bigotry by choosing the appropriate words at each time, which results into a lyricism that moves and forces the reader to face a reality some prefer to ignore.
Meg Gee
Apr 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
"If I play dead, will I be acting my age?" ("Song of the Wreckage").
Jan 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
loved it.
solid solid solid
rough and solid
Ben Wright
Jun 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Like Patricia Smith? Rupi Kaur? Poetry set in Madison, Wisconsin? This had better be your next read.
Dec 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
beautiful and haunting
Dec 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lgbtq, poetry
After reading Danez Smith's collection of poetry, and seeing several of his slam performances online, I am confident that my opinions on his verse and words are not needed. These words were not meant to be critiqued by a person like me. Let the four stars speak for themselves.

Thus, the following is a list of the selections that I most enjoyed in [insert] boy:

- "The Black Boy and the Bullet"
- "To My Grandfather's Prostate Cancer"
- "Healing: Attempt #2"
- "Healing: Attempt #3"
- "Poem Where I Be A
Feb 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely loved it. There will never be enough poetry about racism, violence, and homophobia and all the ways in which they intersect. Lovely collection. Beautiful poet, and I hope to read more by Smith in the future. The pulse of his spoken word may be missing in a way, but I greatly enjoyed both the format and the ability to linger on some of these lines a little longer.
Jan 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
Holy shit--this book just knocked me right over. Every page is exquisite. Passionate. Devastating. One of the best collections I've read in a long while.
May 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry, queer
Everything I want from poems and more!
Apr 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Read it! Also watch him on Youtube.
Aug 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
I think of him at the end of each day
Erin (roostercalls)
Jul 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020-reads
Danez Smith knocks it out of the park every time.
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Danez Smith is the author of [insert] boy (2014, YesYes Books), a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award and the Norma Farber First Book Award from the Poetry Society of America. Their 2nd collection will be published by Graywolf Press in 2017. Their work has published & featured widely including in Poetry Magazine, Beloit Poetry Journal, Buzzfeed, Blavity, & Ploughshares. They are a 2014 Ruth Lil ...more

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“Do you know what it means to be that beautiful & still hunted & still alive?
Who knows this story but the elephants & the trees?

Who says the grace of a black man in motion is not perfect
as a tusk in the sun or a single leaf taking its sweet time to the ground?”
More quotes…