Kiese Laymon is one of the best contemporary writers that I know of.
It was a challenge to stay present for this narrative & to let its painful moments settle into my body & my understanding. But this is a book that mattered to me instantly & I think you should read it.
"Nothing I'd read in school prepared me to think through the permanence of violence in Mississippi, Maryland, and the whole nation. After school, I kept reading and rearranging the words I'd written, trying to understand what the words meant for my understanding of violence. For the first time in my life, I realized telling the truth was way different from finding the truth, and finding the truth had everything to do with revisiting and rearranging words. Revisiting and rearranging words didn't only require vocabulary; it required will, and maybe courage. Revised word patterns were revised thought patterns. Revised thought patterns shaped memory. I knew, looking at all those words, that memories were there. I just had to rearrange, add, subtract, sit, and sift until I found a way to free the memory. You told me in Mississippi revision was practice. In Maryland, I finally believed you. The truth was that practicing writing meant practicing sitting down, sitting still, and my body did not ever want to be still. When it had to be still, all it wanted to do was imagine dunking with two hands or kissing a girl who loved me. Sitting still, just as much as any other part of writing, took practice. Most days, my body did not want to practice, but I convinced it that sitting still and writing were a path to memory."
"'My job as a teacher was to help them breathe with excellence and discipline in the classroom. The ones that love you, they become what you model. Don't forget that. Help them breathe by modeling responsible love in the classroom every singe day. The most important thing a teacher can do is give their students permission to be loving and excellent.'"
"No matter what, I would always come back with the stated intention of winning, and the unstated intention of harming myself."