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Distributed for CavanKerry Press

When Did We Stop Being Cute?

A coming-of-age collection set to the music of the 1980s and 90s.

This novel in poetic form tells the story of a young man dealing with the challenges of growing up mixed-race in 1980s suburbia. In this time of change, both for himself and the world around him, he seeks to “remember / just when I stopped being cute…”

Narrating run-ins with the police (“The minute they see me, fear me”) and confrontations with himself, the speaker in this collection must learn to navigate a world that sees him as a threat. When Did We Stop Being Cute? reflects on the beauty and horrors of life in the United States, telling a personal story that shows Black lives and how they matter.

112 pages | 6 x 9

Poetry


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Reviews

“Rhythmic, musical, and at times nostalgic for a past that never was, Martin Wiley’s poetry offers a piercing view into the life of a young mixed man as he processes his world, his grief, with nuance, biting humor, and brutal honesty, using the microcosms of a school, a deli, a neighborhood, to examine the fraught experiences of minorities in America.”

Jeni McFarland, author of ‘The House of Deep Water’

Table of Contents

Part One: The minute they see me, fear me

Prologue: Early evening at the abandoned school
We can’t afford to be innocent
There ain’t no need for ya
Peace is a dream (Kids in America pt. 1)
All alone with you makes the butterflies in me arise
Kind hearts don’t make a news story (KiA pt. 2)
Something like a phenomenon
Forever’s gonna start tonight (KiA pt.3)
Jimmy Got Nothing made himself a name (KiA pt. 4)
If I could find a souvenir just to prove the world was here (KiA pt. 5)
After: math


Part Two: Hey kid walk straight, master your high

Prologue: Late night at the abandoned school
Look right through me, look right through me
Glory days, or The true story of two guys coming down a mountain
And we mean to go on and on and on
Past the days of yes y’allin’
We’re all ice cream castles in the summer time
A self-made monster
Yeah yeah they do it all the time
Unruly boys who will not grow up
After: shock


Part Three: But life is just a party & parties weren’t meant to last

Prologue: Early morning at the abandoned school
The world is collapsing around our ears
Subtle innuendo follows
(And so, by the way, I thank you)
When they reminisce over you
A white hot spotlight
You, you said you’d wait until the end of the world
We still play our little games


Epilogue: I thought we’d get to see forever...

Excuse me for a moment, I’m in another world
You don’t have to worry about me
After: all

Acknowledgements

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