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A Boy Named Boy

Growing Up Black in “Whitetown” During the 1960s, Hampstead, NC

by Earl S. Braggs

“People have long told stories like our story but most never quite as long.”

And so begins Earl S. Braggs complex jazz memoir of growing up black and poor in rural North Carolina. What is long about Braggs’ story is not its length but how deeply the roots of race and history reach through the narrative in every unexpected direction. From the haphazard pleasures of a childhood in a rural shack in segregated “fishtown” to the civil unrest of Wilmington NC in the Civil Rights Era to the poet’s coming of age as a writer in San Francisco. In the midst of familiar injustices, Braggs blows open our conceptions about good and bad, revealing violence where we expect safety and friendships where we expect derision. A white man presses a revolver into the boy’s head, the bookmobile lady stops so he can get on. While the borders of Hampstead were segregated black and white, the design of this narrative never is.

“Improvising day in day out, the velocity of nothingness, we channeled hard times in directions away from our hearts.”

Pub Date: January 2021

120 pages pbk

ISBN: 978-1-7324369-8-5

A Boy Named Boy becomes a polished lens for reckoning with contrasting forms of being and being watched at the intersection of black and white, fish and snakes, rural and city, poor and more poor, public and private. Barefaced, undisguised, A Boy Named Boy names what it means to live out loud, Black, shamelessly declaring restorative witness as an act of resistance and the unflinching utterance of endurance. This memoir of race and survival croons and scrutinizes a sultry but sharp southern manner of existence that both claims and repels.”
—Jaki Shelton Green, North Carolina Poet Laureate (Professor, Duke University Center for Documentary Studies)


“Each page hums with electric language and insightful compassion, culminating in an illuminating story of what it means to grow up as a Black man in America.”
—Sybil Baker, author of
While You Were Gone and Immigration Essays, both from C&R Press

Andrea Clark Libin reading from, Orphan of the Moon. “A living, breathing, hybrid work unlike anything I've ever read—an orphan's notebook exhumed from the Moscow station and entrusted to your own red heart.” —Karen Russell

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Other Kitchen Table

Readings Recordings


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From Fishtown to Fresno, Earl S. Braggs & Thoreau Lovell (video)

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