Homie is Danez Smith’s magnificent anthem about the saving grace of friendship. Rooted in the loss of one of Smith’s close friends, this book comes out of the search for joy and intimacy within a nation where both can seem scarce and getting scarcer.
I’d like to invent or order up new adjectives to describe the startling originality and ambition of Smith’s work. I’d like to unwrap some brand-new words, oddly pronged words, to convey their wary intelligence and open heart ... These poems emerge from places of paradox, and are animated by the spirit of the dozens, where deep love can be best conveyed through imaginative insult ... The radiance of Homie arrives like a shock, like found money, like a flower fighting through concrete ... Each poem feels like a maze designed to take the poet and the reader to some new destination, some new understanding. Smith applies shocks to the language, twists tenses at will ... Smith got their start in spoken word, and their work has always retained the intimacy and directness of performance ... This is a book full of the turbulence of thought and desire, piloted by a writer who never loses their way.
...a rapturous cry for all their friends and lovers in the profoundly moving collection ... Smith writes with both power and precision, and their poetic forms are as diverse as their topics. Homie teems with stream-of-conscious prose poetry and in equal measure gleams with lapidary stanzas of more formalized verse ... Smith is also a master of shape poetry, pushing words around the page in ways that are novel yet somehow essential to the flow of language ... As much as the collection is grounded in love, there's a hard-won ferocity in belonging, even moments of violence ... The collection is filled with passion and humanity and demonstrates why Smith has been called one of the best poets of their generation.
...by hiding the real name of the book, Smith only makes it available to those who take the time to read it. If the poetry were less earnest, this could come off as a gag—just another conceptual stunt. But the writer’s commitment to making black life visible while simultaneously expanding blackness’s scope when people are looking imbues this title with a different weight ... In its plainspoken yet voluminous vocabulary, its full-scale embrace of the body, and its ecstatic rendering of everyday life, Smith’s distinctive song of the self inevitably recalls Whitman ... Smith’s writing presents an identity tempered by a society that is slow to administer acceptance. Smith is a poet of profound abundance and empathy, and in this collection the moments that stay with you the longest are the ones that reflect on abandoning the socialization of a prolifically cruel world.