During these trying days of social distancing, self-isolating and quarantines, days rife with fear and anxiety, my colleagues and I thought you might like some company. So each day we will be introducing you to poets we have met over the years. The only contagion they will expose you to is a measure of joy, reflection and meditation brought on by “the best words in the best order.”
— Bill Moyers
In this video, Danez Smith performs Langston Hughes’ “Let America Be America Again,” at Minneapolis’s Loft Literary Center in 2017.
Smith says that, “Every poem is political. In poems not obviously political, the writer is trying to avoid something. I hope Trump will move poets who have long thought of poems as apolitical to reconsider.”
Let America Be America Again
By Langston Hughes
Langston Hughes, “Let America be America Again” from The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes. Copyright © 1995 by Langston Hughes. Video courtesy of The Loft Literary Center; performed by artist Danez Smith.
Danez Smith is a Black, Queer, Poz writer & performer from St. Paul, MN. Smith is the author of “Homie” (Graywolf Press, 2020), “Don’t Call Us Dead” (Graywolf Press, 2017), winner of the Forward Prize for Best Collection, the Midwest Booksellers Choice Award, and a finalist for the National Book Award, and “[insert] boy” (YesYes Books, 2014), winner of the Kate Tufts Discovery Award and the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry. They are a member of the Dark Noise Collective and is the co-host of VS with Franny Choi, a podcast sponsored by the Poetry Foundation and Postloudness. (Read more about Smith at his website.)
See all poets in the A Poet a Day Collection.