‘Bluff: Poems’ by Danez Smith | LJ Review of the Day

Not to be missed; sure to be one of the best collections of the year.

Smith, Danez. Bluff: Poems. Graywolf. Aug. 2024. 160p. ISBN 9781644452981. pap. $18. POETRY

This fourth poetry collection comes after two years of artistic silence from Smith (Don’t Call Us Dead), during which the murder of George Floyd occurred in Smith’s hometown of Minneapolis and the COVID pandemic was at its worst. The collection is centered on grief, both globally and personally. It delves into the history of racism in Minneapolis-St. Paul, exploring the Rondo neighborhood, a predominantly Black community. It also includes a firsthand account of the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder, in a staggering eight-page poem. The collection explores complex family dynamics and their role in mourning: “hate that marriage means to plot your escape & love’s murder. / hate he taught me that. our local & occasional evil. / our shelter & from where we fled. a father. a country. i plotted / his death in dark of Saturdays. i’d kill the world to kiss him.” Smith’s collection is a powerful exploration of what it means to live in a world that feels like it is collapsing, amid global warming, racism, gentrification, and gun violence. VERDICT Not to be missed; sure to be one of the best collections of the year.


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