John Warner Smith 



John Warner Smith earned his MFA at the University of New Orleans. He has published five collections of poetry. His most recent, Our Shut Eyes, was published in the spring of 2021 by MadHat Press. A Cave Canem fellow, Smith received the 2019 Linda Hodge Bromberg Poetry Award and, in 2020, he was awarded a $50,000 fellowship by the Academy of American Poets.

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A Conversation Between Louisiana Poet Laureates: Mona Lisa Saloy and John Warner Smith


Our Shut Eyes

These poems are powerful in their dynamism, in their rhythm and flow. But their impact is manifest most in the combination of their immediacy and historical depth. The soul-crushing frustration of watching the police murder Alton Sterling is juxtaposed against Douglass’s vision of slavery, or McKay’s Harlem Renaissance, or Baraka’s Black Arts Movement. There are meditations here on white supremacy and black liberation, on passing and passing the time, with a historian’s knowledge, a theoretician’s insight, and a poet’s soul.


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