This article examines the poetry of Danez Smith as a practice of commoning. It introduces the concept of the uncommons as a way of thinking about how African American literature, culture, and political practice develop egalitarian forms of life in the face of white supremacism. It considers the ways in which the violences of white supremacism uncommon black life—that is, bar blackness from belonging—as well as the ways in which poetry and politics become avenues through which black life invents alternative socialities. From this perspective, the lyric qualities of Smith’s verse are social not because they prescribe a proper collective identity but because they invent modes of relation that transform social death into the possibility of another way of living. This is the uncommons: a reckoning with the racialized political economy of death that constructs commonality through dissonance, disruption, passion, and power.

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