'I'm beyond humbled': St. Paul poet nominated for National Book Award

"Thank you judges for, like, liking my book!"
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Apparently, it's a great time to be a Minnesota writer – because yet another one has been nominated for a national literary award.

This time, it's Danez Smith, a 28-year-old poet from St. Paul.

He's up for the prestigious National Book Award in the poetry category, for his book Don't Call Us Dead: Poems.

Released last month by Minneapolis-based Graywolf Press, the book is his third collection of poems, after 2014's [insert] boy, and 2015's Black Movie

Don't Call Us Dead has helped increase Smith's national profile, with the Washington Post calling it a "stunning collection," adding, "these pieces pulse with the rhythms and assertiveness one expects from poetry slams.”

The book also received acclaim from outlets such as NPR and Publishers Weekly

Following the National Book Foundation's announcement Wednesday morning, Danez took to Facebook to express his unabashed excitement. 

"I'm beyond humbled and grateful and giddy," he wrote in the status update. "Thank you judges for, like, liking my book!"

Smith's work has been featured on PBS's NewsHour, and he's even performed on The Late Show with Stephen Colbertaccording to the Pioneer Press.

The Central High graduate is also HIV positive, a part of his life that he features in much of his work, the paper notes. 

Like all his other fellow National Book Award nominees, Smith will find out if he's won at the foundation's gala on Nov. 15.

Homegrown literary stars 

When it comes to award nominations, the past month has been especially bountiful for Minnesota authors.

Three were shortlisted for major literary awards in September – Kao Kalia Yang of Minneapolis, for The Song Poet; Edina native Emily Fridlund, for History of Wolves; and UK-born Lesley Nneka Arimah, for What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky.

And last week, it was announced that Amazon will develop as its next TV series A Brief History of Seven Killings, the Man Booker Prize-winning novel from Minneapolis resident and Macalester College professor Marlon James. 

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