Read an excerpt from A Boy Named Boy by Earl S. Braggs
“A Boy Named Boy is a disarming inventive poetic memoir that 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
“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.”
A North Carolina native from the rural-back-woods-fishing community of Hampstead, Earl Sherman Braggs is a UC Foundation and Battle Professor of English at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Braggs is the author of thirteen collections of poetry. Hat Dancing with Miss Bessie Smith and Negro Side of the Moon are his latest. Among his many awards are the Anhinga Poetry Prize, the Cleveland (Ohio) State Poetry Prize (unable to accept, manuscript won in two places at the same time), the C&R Poetry Prize, the Jack Kerouac International Literary Prize, the Knoxville News Sentinel Poetry Award and the Gloucester County Poetry Prize. Braggs’ novel, Looking for Jack Kerouac was a finalist for the James Jones First Novel Contest. Cruising Weather Wind Blue is forthcoming from Anhinga press. Obama’s Children is forthcoming from Madville Press.
A Boy Named Boy
A Boy Name Boy
Earl S. Braggs
120 pages, 4.25"x7", Perfect Bound
Publication Date: January 2021