Vernon Keeve III


Amazon Review March 23, 2018

This book is not easy. It is uninterested in your comfort. In fact, dis-ease is a core theme, along with the trauma of being othered in various ways. It didn't occur to me that nature, here in the U.S., could be associated with danger, that trees are a constant reminder of the horrors of racism, that camping is predominantly part of white culture for historical reasons. Similarly, while I have thought about the corrosive pollution (and loneliness) of city living, removed from nature, I never tied it so neatly with racism the way Vernon deftly does in this impressive autobiographical exploration. And if that was all this book explored, it would still be worth your time, but that is merely the opening salvo of an emotional tour de force. The generational trauma of parental abuses, the intense pain of peers ostracizing with sexual and racial slurs, the fetishization of queer black bodies, it's all here, laid bare for anyone to experience from a first-hand perspective. The bravery of being so open is truly daunting. The book culminates in a series of intensely painful vignettes of the author's reaction to recent racially-charged tragedies. There is also a love/hate note to Oakland (with appropriate excoriations of gentrification and capitalism), and a simple yet provocative recipe (for disaster). The title of the book is fitting. This is a collection of seemingly disconnected tales, and yet they coalesce into a moving emotional arc thanks to the constant thread of repeated themes demonstrated with lines like "black women have never stopped singing for black men [or themselves]." I found my face wet at several points during this half-day read. I required several pauses to get through it. Even though it will leave you with an uncomfortable feeling in the pit of your heart, please do yourself the favor of reading this amazing work.

BONUS: In this episode, we speak with Vernon Keeve III about his book Southern Migrant Mixtape (Nomadic Press, 2018), a collection published by Nomadic Press.
Memoir comes in many forms, be it poetry or prose. Keeve’s work is a bridge between both worlds. In a manner that is simultaneously universal and intimate, his book is an unflinching view at what it is to be black, queer, disenfranchised, jubilant, and resilient. Via his deft pen, Keeve turns his focus on how his own personal history is deeply connected to, and is bolstered by, the black experience in society.


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