Catholic Boy Blues

Catholic Boy Blues

by Norbert Krapf


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Catholic Boy Blues by Norbert Krapf

Norbert Krapf, past Indiana Poet Laureate, Pulitzer Prize nominee, emeritus prof. of English at Long Island University, and author of twenty-five critically acclaimed books, has written a new book, Catholic Boy Blues: A Poet's Journal of Healing. Norbert is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. After fifty years of struggling with his past, he felt that by confronting it in writing, he could offer fellow victims comfort, healing, and a sense of freedom from the long-term effects of abuse. He also believed that the book, seven years in the making, could help caregivers who counsel and minister to survivors of abuse. Catholic Boy Blues gives insight and encouragement to those who have not yet confronted their abuse and to friends and family members who want to understand better the long-term effects of abuse.
After Norbert began to write about the emotional turmoil which affected him, his feelings of betrayal by God and Church, and his years of troubled silence, he experienced healing and a renewal of spirit. The 130 poems he selected from the 325 he wrote came in four voices: the boy he was, the man he became, Mr. Blues (a fictional friend, mentor, and counselor), and the Priest. The honesty and power of Norbert's words convey representative emotions and thoughts of those abused. Although the poems aren't always pleasant, they give the reader a vivid look at the helplessness, anger, betrayal, and isolation any victim suffers, but in the end, as Jason Berry says, "Norbert Krapf fuses the rolling wisdom of blues singers with incantations of his own past that echo sacred ritual. Along the way he turns trauma into elegy, and takes suffering to a plateau of human triumph."

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781941365007
Publisher: Greystone Publishing LLC
Publication date: 04/01/2014
Pages: 224
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.47(d)

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Catholic Boy Blues 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
StL_Lehrer More than 1 year ago
As a committed Catholic, I actually didn’t want to read this work, but I knew it had to be read. This collection of outpoured emotion helps us all face the truth, not with a view towards destruction, but with a view towards reform, healing and hope. In the first section, the blues delivery is jarring in places, it's so honest and unadorned. It seemed out of place at first, but then it slowly began to have a unique effect on me. Then the incredible pure prayer to Hildegard of Bingen caught me further by surprise. I could only make it halfway through the prayer to Mechthild and had to stop. Words fail, it's so monstrous, and I wanted to weep, as I was trying to sort out something that really can't be. When I came back and read the 3 prayers at the end of part one again, they struck me as something special, almost sublime. How could anyone retain their ability to pray even the most simple prayer in light of such trauma? I immediately had the impression that this work was going to develop in ways I couldn’t anticipate and I was right. In the second section, the changing voices and scenes have a strong affect, they keep us moving through the tough memories, keep the reader from getting overwhelmed, we clutch at straws with the author as he gives glimpses of strength. The poem about the picture of the boy is particularly moving. I especially enjoyed the lines about the boy hitting the baseball / priest's face and other such images. This is what we all do as children – a simple coping mechanism, but in the face of horrible crimes in this instance.  The vividness of the recollections as a boy and as an adult makes it very clear that Krapf has had to relive these episodes over and over throughout his life.  We are fortunate that he has not only the personal honesty but also the poetic ability to relate to us his reactions to these unspeakable acts.  When I finished CBB,  I thought in light of the necessarily and brutally honest expressions of pain, anger, doubt, confusion and frustration, the collection is amazingly and utterly fair and hope-giving. If those emotions failed to come through, the whole work would smack of something contrived, but it's truly raw and immediate. The aspects of finding a voice and the power of the word (others’ words as well) come through as mighty weapons in combating evil without resorting to it or becoming evil in response. This book is quite a unique witness.