After a raucous sell-out event last year, the Bristol Poetry Festival Grand Slam Final is back as winners from the afternoon qualifiers compete for the coveted crown of 2020’s Lyra Slam Champion.
The event will feature an extended performance from the incomparable Forward Prize Winning Poet, Button Poetry sensation and world-class performer Danez Smith, plus a support set from last year’s epic slam winner Kat Lyons.
Danez Smith is a black, queer, poz writer and performer from St. Paul, Minnesota. Danez is the author of Don’t Call Us Dead, winner of the Forward Prize for Best Collection and the Midwest Booksellers Choice Award, and a finalist for the National Book Award, and [insert] boy, winner of the Kate Tufts Discovery Award and the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry. They are the recipient of fellowships from the Poetry Foundation, the McKnight Foundation, the Montalvo Arts Center, Cave Canem and the National Endowment for the Arts. Danez’s work has been featured widely, including in the New York Times, Best American Poetry and Poetry Magazine, and on PBS NewsHour and the Late Show with Stephen Colbert.
Smith is back with their highly anticipated third collection, “Homie.” A magnificent anthem about the saving grace of friendship, Homie is rooted in their search for joy and intimacy in a time where both are scarce. In poems of rare power and generosity, Smith acknowledges that in a country overrun by violence, xenophobia, and disparity, and in a body defined by race, queerness, and diagnosis, it can be hard to survive, even harder to remember reasons for living. But then the phone lights up, or a shout comes up to the window, and family—blood and chosen—arrives with just the right food and some redemption. Part friendship diary, part bright elegy, part war cry, Homie is written for friends: for Danez’s, for yours.
“These poems can’t make history vanish, but they can contend against it with the force of a restorative imagination. Smith’s work is about that imagination – its role in repairing and sustaining communities, and in making the world more bearable.” –New Yorker