Discussion post: “tonight, in oakland” by danez smith


For This Assignment

Acheson’s text leads us through a critical reading of William Carlos Williams’ poem, This Is Just To Say, by posing/asking questions of the text that a non-critical reader might not ask. See Acheson’s list of “Guiding Questions” on p. 22. Reading works of literature with a critical eye requires the reader to ask questions of the text and to search for answers to those questions. At times this can be challenging and frustrating work. However, in my experience it’s very rewarding work as we gain a deeper understanding of a poem or a work of literature.

Initial Post

Using Acheson’s reading of This Is Just to Say as a model, please provide a 250 to 300 word critical analysis of Tonight, In Oakland Links to an external site.by Danez Smith Links to an external site.. I’ve copied the text of the poem below, but I encourage you to access the link for the poem and the link to the author’s web page. Below is a link to a bio the Poetry foundation has written for Smith. Learning a bit about Smith should help you write your critical analysis.

You’ll notice that you cannot view your classmates’ work until you’ve posted your initial post. This is on purpose of course. I want to see who you all do with a critical analysis of a short text. I am very well aware that you could post a blank post, or a post with a single character in it to see your classmates’ work and then write your initial post. Doing so will result in a zero for the assignment. Canvas is very “big brother” in the sense that I can see pretty much every key stroke and page view you all do, so, don’t do it.

Additionally, I encourage you to first compose your initial post in a Word or Google Document and save it. You can then copy and paste it into the space below. This way you won’t get 199 words into a post when technological disaster strikes and you have to rewrite the whole thing!


If initial posts or response post are very inflammatory, the offending student(s) may be referred to academic affairs. Just keep it polite, y’all! 🙂

Tonight, in Oakland

BY DANEZ SMITHLinks to an external site.I did not come here to sing a blues.Lately, I open my mouth & out comes marigolds, yellow plums.I came to make the sky a garden. Give me rain or give me honey, dear lord.The sky has given us no water this year. I ride my bike to a boy, when I get therewhat we make will not be beautiful or love at all, but it will be deserved.I’ve started seeking men to wet the harvest. Come, tonight I declare we must moveinstead of pray. Tonight, east of here,two boys, one dressed in what could be blood & one dressed in what could be bloodbefore the wound, meet & mean mug & God, tonight, let them dance! Tonight,the bullet does not exist. Tonight, the police have turned to their God for forgiveness.Tonight, we bury nothing, we serve a God with no need for shovels, we serve a Godwith a bad hip & a brother in prison. Tonight, let every man be his own lord.Let wherever two people stand be a reunion of ancient lights. Let’s waste the moon’s marble glowshouting our names to the stars until we are the stars. O, precious God! O, sweet black town!I am drunk & I thirst. When I get to the boy who lets me practice hunger with himI will not give him the name of your newest ghost I will give him my body & what he does with itis none of my business, but I will say look, I made it a whole day, still, no rainstill, I am without exit wound & he will say Tonight, I want to take youhow the police do, unarmed & sudden & tonight, when we dream, we dream of dancingin a city slowly becoming ash. 

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