by Douglas Manuel


by Douglas Manuel


    Qualifies for Free Shipping
    Choose Expedited Shipping at checkout for delivery by Thursday, September 28
    Check Availability at Nearby Stores

Related collections and offers


A brave, brilliant debut about the African-American experience in the American Midwest. A contemplation of race, masculinity, religion, and class, Testify in a very personal way confronts some of the most critical issues in today's society.

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781597090452
Publisher: Red Hen Press
Publication date: 04/25/2017
Pages: 104
Product dimensions: 5.80(w) x 8.70(h) x 0.30(d)

About the Author

Douglas Manuel was born in Anderson, Indiana. He received a BA in Creative Writing from Arizona State Universityand a MFA from Butler Universitywhere he was the Managing Editor of Booth a Journal. He is currently a Middleton and Dornsife Fellow at the Universityof 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 Poetry Editor for Gold Line Press as well as was one of the Managing Editors of Ricochet Editions. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Rhino, North American Review,—The Chattahoochee Review, New Orleans Review, Crab Creek Review, Many Mountains Moving, and elsewhere.

Read an Excerpt

Mic Drop

Grandma’s grave remains unmarked. It was me who was supposed to buy her headstone.

After finding out her plot was still uncrowned,
I promised.
I promised to give dad my truck.
I promised to quit smoking, to say sorry more.

My apologies as bare as the stretch of land above her.
Promised I’d send my brother fifty dollars. Promised

I’d holla at my auntie at least once a month.
In the restlessness night gives,
I saw Mounds State Park,

the pavilion filled with every broken promise congregating as though this was a church revival.

Mother and father both walking as though their legs were never lost.
Me at a podium, with a microphone:
I’m sorry. I am so sorry.
My act of contrition interrupted by voices. My past and future selves loudest

of all. They offer punishments: Lashings? Guillotine?
Electric chair? The noose? Banishment? Stones?

To get out of there I had to become Father Bob,
the holiest man I ever saw in flesh. Mirror to face,

I am him, aquiline nose, crow-claw eyebrows, skin yellowed around eyes and joints.
We do the magic trick

he always did. He pulls my thumb off, and after a quick smoker’s cough, puts it back.

Table of Contents


Loud Looks 15

Washing Palms 17

Aubade 18

Little Fires Left by Travelers 20

Get Your Head out of the Gutter 21

Luxury Items 22

As if I can unchisel pain, 23

Feels like Rain 24

Baubles 25

Entreaties 26

Heading Down 28

Me, The Boondocks. Her, South Park. 30

Indefensible 31

Best Act like You Know 32

Bad Son 33

Mic Drop 34

I'll Leave Your Ass Here 36


"Are You Ready to Help the Parents of This Child in Their Duty as Christian Parents?" 39

Of Wasp Hum and Catacombs 40

I'm My Father's Name 41

Lost Side of Loss 42

Keeping It Real 43

The First Time I See My Father's Blood Cleaned 44

Fishing 46

This Poem Isn't Black 47

Vertigo 48

Give Me My Mama Back 49

Whose Little Boy Are You? 50

My Brother Smoked Rocks with a Quran at His Feet 52

Love's Austere and Lonely Offices 54

Never Left My Name 56

We Had the Second Biggest Gymnasium in the Nation 57

Testify 59


Goodnight, Baby 63

Crown Hill Cemetery 66

Bullets Ain't Got No Names on Them 67

What I Wish My Mother Had Told My Father 68

I Can Run Five Miles but Can't Get to the Other Side of My Mind 70

Is That My Father? 71

I'm Suspicious 72

All Is Laughter 74

Knee Deep 76

Pray to This 77

The Cripple and the Crackhead 86

Notes 87

From the B&N Reads Blog

Customer Reviews