Testify


"In his breathtaking debut, Testify, Douglas Manuel charts the raw emotional complexities and the impossible daily reckonings that confront a young black man coming of age today in America. Faced at every turn with condescending, fixed assumptions about his 'proper' role in his community and culture, the speaker faces each indictment with a stunning and searing intelligence. Each powerful testimony in this collection stands as evidence of an eloquent and dramatic new voice in American poetry."

--David St. John

"In Douglas Manuel's Testify the act of witnessing is by turns burdensome and bittersweet, narrative and lyrical, ecstatic and irreverent. Here the holy words are the ones that offer no easy epiphanies yet grant us dazzling, off-kilter compassion and a strange, surprising grace. These potent poems testify to those ambivalent moments that might rend or right us, as when an interracial couple drive past a truck with a Confederate flag painted on its back windshield and from which a little boy turns to smile and wave: his 'blond hair // split down the middle like a Bible / left open to the Book of Psalms.'"

--Anna Journey, author of The Atheist Wore Goat Silk

A book of elegiac ambivalence, Testify's speaker often finds himself trapped between received binaries: black and white, ghetto and suburban, atheism and Catholicism. In many ways, this work is a Bildungsroman detailing the maturation of a black man raised in the crack-laden 1980s, with hip-hop, jazz, and blues as its soundtrack. Rendered with keen attention to the economic decline of the Midwest due to the departure of the automotive industry, this book portrays the speaker wrestling with his city's demise, family relationships, interracial love, and notions of black masculinity. Never letting anyone, including the speaker, off the hook, Testify refuses sentimentality and didacticism and dwells in a space of uncertainty, where meaning and identity are messy, complicated, and multivalent.

Hear more about Douglas Manuel and his book Testify in this KMSU Weekly Reader Interview

ABOUT ME

Douglas Manuel was born in Anderson, Indiana. He received a BA in Creative Writing from Arizona State University and a MFA from Butler University where he was the Managing Editor of Booth a Journal. He is currently a Middleton and Dornsife Fellow at the University of Southern California where he is pursuing a PhD in Literature and Creative Writing. He was a recipient of the Chris McCarthy Scholarship for the Napa Valley Writers’ Conference and has been the Poetry Editor for Gold Line Press as well as was one of the Managing Editors of Ricochet Editions. His poems are featured on Poetry Foundation's website and have appeared or are forthcoming in Poetry Northwest, Superstition Review, Rhino, North American Review, The Chattahoochee Review, New Orleans Review, Crab Creek Review, Many Mountains Moving, Figure 1, and elsewhere. His first full length collection of poems, Testify, was released by Red Hen Press in the spring of 2017.

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Writings

Poetry
Testify
Poetry Foundation
Read Here
Washing Palms
Poetry Foundation
Read Here
Feels Like Rain | The First Time I See My Father's Blood Cleaned
Figure 1
Read Here
Whose Little Boy Are You? | Little Fires Left by Travelers
Superstition [review]
Read Here
Heading Down | Goodnight Baby
New Orleans Review
Read Here
Entreaties
MMM online, vol XI, 2014
Read Here
Essays
In the Between
Superstition Review
Read Here
The Trenchant Is Poetic: Notes On “Washing Palms”
North American Review
Read Here
Punchlist, Week Of 7/9/12
Punchel's
Read Here
“A poem is a type of prayer…”
Butler Blog
Read Here

Events

Upcoming

Poetry Reading

The Broad Stage
December 10, 2017
1310 11th St. Santa Monica,CA 90401
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Poetry Reading

Flintridge Bookstore
April 15, 2018
1010 Foothill Blvd. La Canada CA 91011
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Past

Poetry Reading

Stories
November 10, 2015
716 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90026
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Poetry Reading

Beyond Baroque
January 15, 2017
681 Venice Blvd, Venice, CA 90291
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Poetry Reading

Busboys and Poets
February 9, 2017
2021 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20009
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Poetry Reading

Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Senter
February 10, 2017
600 Maryland Ave SW #7065, Washington, DC 20024
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Poetry Reading

Beyond Baroque
February 24, 2017
681 Venice Blvd, Venice, CA 90291
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Poetry Reading

Art Share LA
March 1, 2017
801 E 4th Pl, Los Angeles, CA 90013
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Poetry Reading

KGB Bar
March 10, 2017
85 E 4th St, New York, NY 10003
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Poetry Reading

Berl's Brooklyn Poetry Shop
March 16, 2017
141 Front St, Brooklyn, NY 11201
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Poetry Reading

Xavier university
March 23, 2017
3800 Victory Pkwy, Cincinnati, OH 45207
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Poetry Reading

Ball State University
March 24, 2017
2000 W University Ave, Muncie, IN 47306
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Poetry Reading

Butler University
March 27, 2017
4600 Sunset Ave, Indianapolis, IN 46208
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Poetry Reading

Der Wolfskopf
March 30, 2017
72 N. Fair Oaks Ave. Pasadena, CA 91103
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Poetry Reading

Tapier Hall at USC
April 20, 2017
Los Angeles, CA 90007
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Poetry Reading

Other Books
April 21, 2017
2006 E. Cesar Chavez Ave. LA, CA 90033
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Poetry Reading

Annenberg Beach House
April 25, 2017
415 Pacific Coast Hwy, Santa Monica, CA 90402
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Poetry Reading

University of San Francisco. 2130 Fulton Street San Francisco, CA 94117-1080
May 4, 2017
University of San Francisco
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Poetry Reading

Pasadena Museum of California Art
June 2, 2017
490 E Union St, Pasadena, CA 91101
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Poetry Reading

Hugo House
June 4, 2017
1634 11th Ave, Seattle, WA 98122
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Poetry Reading

Diesel Bookstore
June 7, 2017
5433 College Ave, Oakland, CA 94618
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Poetry Reading

Claremont Public Library
August 27, 2017
208 Harvard Ave, Claremont, CA 91711
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Poetry Reading

Red Hen Press Headquarters
September 10, 2017
1540 Lincoln Ave. Pasadena, CA 91103
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Poetry Reading

Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center
September 16, 2017
681 Venice Blvd, Venice, CA 90291
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Poetry Reading

Stories Books and Cafe
September 22, 2017
1716 Sunset Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90026
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Poetry Reading

Art Share LA
October 6, 2017
801 E 4th Pl, Los Angeles, CA 90013
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Poetry Reading

NoHo Arts District
October 25, 2017
Intersection of Lankershim Blvd. & Magnolia Blvd.
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Poetry Reading

Mt. San Antonio College
October 28, 2017
Mt. San Antonio College 1100 N Grand Ave Walnut, CA 91789
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Poetry Reading

Spalding University
November 13, 2017
901 S 4th St, Louisville, KY 40203
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