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Counting Descent: Poems by Clint Smith
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Counting Descent: Poems by Clint Smith


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Published in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, Poetry Magazine, The Paris Review, New Republic, Boston Review, The Guardian, The Rumpus, The Academy of American Poets

"So many of these poems just blow me away. Incredibly beautiful and powerful." ―Michelle Alexander, Author of The New Jim Crow

"Counting Descent is a tightly-woven collection of poems whose pages act like an invitation. The invitation is intimate and generous and also a challenge; are you up to asking what is blackness? What is black joy? How is black life loved and lived? To whom do we look to for answers? This invitation is not to a narrow street, or a shallow lake, but to a vast exploration of life. And you’re invited. —Elizabeth Acevedo, Author of Beastgirl & Other Origin Myths

"These poems shimmer with revelatory intensity, approaching us from all sides to immerse us in the America that America so often forgets."―Gregory Pardlo

Counting Descent is more than brilliant. More than lyrical. More than bluesy. More than courageous. It is terrifying in its ability to at once not hide and show readers why it wants to hide so badly. These poems mend, meld and imagine with weighted details, pauses, idiosyncrasies and word patterns I've never seen before. —Kiese Laymon, Author of Long Division

Clint Smith's debut poetry collection, Counting Descent, is a coming of age story that seeks to complicate our conception of lineage and tradition.

“Do you know what it means for your existence to be defined by someone else’s intentions?”

Smith explores the cognitive dissonance that results from belonging to a community that unapologetically celebrates black humanity while living in a world that often renders blackness a caricature of fear. His poems move fluidly across personal and political histories, all the while reflecting on the social construction of our lived experiences. Smith brings the reader on a powerful journey forcing us to reflect on all that we learn growing up, and all that we seek to unlearn moving forward.