Book Review: Homie by Danez Smith

Smith, Danez. Homie. Highbridge Audio. 2020. $8.99. 1.5h. Audiobook. 9781684577392

Staunch defenders of audiobooks can find solace in Smith’s  unapologetically vulnerable collection of poems, Homie. Smith’s work is a mosaic – a testimony – to race, gender identity, illness, and language itself. Read by Smith with the candor and rhythm that you’d expect from a World Poetry Slam finalist, the readings pulse in the eardrums. As a listener, Smith pulls you along through loving, through life, and through loss. The collection is as much about grief as it is about celebration; and perhaps how one is necessary for surviving the other.

Smith’s work tangoes with the effects of marginalization on the body and implores the listener to engage with polarized themes all while maintaining a polished finish. The audio experience is intimacy at its finest; Smith’s full-bodied voice welcomes you as a friend. They whisper just as well as they roar, displaying a mastery of intonation and pace unlike many other poets. Each piece is a conversation where they reveal a little bit more of what it means to reach for joy when Everything Else begs otherwise. Recommended listening circumstances include: a golden hour stroll, sitting in your car outside of an Albertsons (at 10:30 PM), and post-heartbreak. Each poem contains at least one breath-stealing line that is sure to stay with you for some time. This collection does contain explicit language and is most appropriate for older teens and adult readers.

For poetry fans that delight in works of self-reflexivity and unabashed queerness, Homie offers a
hearth to share and return to, again and again.

By Anastasia Wright


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