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Danez Smith hosts evening of poetry at Walker Art Center

Photo by Hieu Minh Nguyen

Green Roof Poetry is a monthly series held by the Minneapolis Walker Art Center as a part of its 2023 Summer Social. Twin Cities’ most dynamic writers take the stage for an evening of literary readings. Acclaimed poet Danez Smith is curating this month’s Green Roof Poetry on Thursday, August 3. The event honor’s Smith’s 34th birthday and features a few of their favorite Twin Cities poets.

Smith says being surrounded by amazing artists made the curation of this event seamless and inspiring. They chose poets Tish Jones, Isha Kamara, Arleta Little, and Farah Habad to grace the stage for the evening.

“Tish Jones is somebody that I admire so much, and is one of my best friends in this world. Isha Kamara is such a brilliant, emerging artist here in the Twin Cities - both as a poet and as a visual artist, and whatever else she decides to touch. I've known her since she was a teenager, and to see her blossoming into this incredible young woman who is so fearless in her art, it's just so amazing to watch. Arleta Little is one of our great community leaders and is just a knockout poet too, they take my breath away. And Farah is very new to me in terms of my own, but his work is just so fantastic. He lights the stage on fire every time.”

Danez Smith is a nationally acclaimed poet, most known for Don't Call Us Dead (2017), which was a finalist for the National Book Award and [insert] Boy (2014), which won the Lambda Literary Award and the Kate Tufts Discovery Award. Smith is also a founding member of the multigenre, multicultural Dark Noise Collective. Smith says they’re grateful for the opportunity to open up the space to other artists, and for all the people who have contributed to their poetry journey. Smith says it’s this generosity that keeps the vibrancy of the local arts community going. Smith says spoken word has always been about community.

“Poetry does not happen within a silo. And so it's always about opening the door and putting people on and putting the audience on to the people that you think are exciting. I think all art making is about sharing space, sharing the stage, and sharing the messages,” said Smith. “I want to offer these four poets up to the audience, because they all have the potential to ignite something wonderful. And so I hope their poems get to do that for the folks who come out on Thursday.

“It's Black August, and what better way to anoint and adorn our spirits than with poetry,” Smith added.

Green Roof Poetry begins at 6pm this Thursday, Aug 3 at the Wurtele Upper Garden.

To keep up with Danez Smith, find them on Instagram at danez_smif.

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