18 pages 36 minutes read

Danez Smith

alternate names for black boys

Fiction | Poem | Adult | Published in 2014

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Dinosaurs in the Hood” by Danez Smith (2014)

This poem, published in the December 2014 issue of Poetry Magazine, showcases Smith’s slam poetry roots. It is an impassioned monologue imagining a brand-new Jurassic Park movie by, starring, and for Black people. Smith liberally indulges in humor and pop culture references (for example: “This is not a vehicle for Will Smith / & Sophia Vergara” [Lines 19-20]). Smith grounds the humor in relevant social commentary, repeating the poignant line “& no one kills the black boy” (Lines 32-33) through the last full stanza. A video of Smith performing this poem at the Soap Boxing Poetry Slam in Saint Paul, Minnesota, is available on YouTube (“Danez Smith – Dinosaurs in the Hood.” Button Poetry, 2014).

Super Sad Black Girl” by Diamond Sharp (2021)

This more recent poem is also an image-heavy list poem and concerns the lived Black experience. This poem rounds out “alternate names for black boys” with a look at Black womanhood in the current moment. Published in Poetry Magazine’s December 2021 issue, Sharp’s poem balances joy, pain, and resilience: “Abandon my mind. / Cry in public. / Want my ugly” (Lines 16-18).