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Poetry Chronicles Life, Loss in Rose City
When Frederick-Douglass Knowles II began writing his creative writing thesis for his Master’s degree in 2006, he wrote from what he knew: the world seen through the eyes of a young child nicknamed “Cabbage Head” growing up in Norwich, Connecticut.
Five years and many revisions later, Knowles’ collection has grown into a manuscript. The collection, titled BlackRoseCity, was published and released this summer by Author House.
According to Knowles, it reflects “Cabbage Head’s growth from an inquisitive child, into an experimental adolescent, eventually evolving into a knowledgeable young man.”
“The collection follows the eight-year-old narrator through his youth to adulthood,” Knowles said. “It [the collection] is autobiographical and biographical. That was the catalyst for the book: telling my story. Telling our [the community’s] stories.”
The name of the collection is a wordplay on Norwich’s nickname, The Rose of New England. Through narrative snapshots, Knowles invites the reader to witness the lives of the small town’s blossoming youth, as well as the imprisonment within a concrete garden of the town’s adults, trapped in economic and psychological despair.
The poems are both poignant and powerful as Knowles deftly draws thought-provoking prose from his history, including his first experience with racism as a kindergartner, in the poem, “Final Frontier” and losing one of his cousins to HIV/AIDS, in “Rose City Thorns,” which is also featured in Fingernails Across the Chalkboard: Poetry and Prose on HIV/AIDS from the Black Diasporaby Third World Press.
BlackRoseCity is available through Amazon, AuthorHouse, and Barnes and Noble.
Knowles is currently on tour in New England to promote BlackRoseCity, and has entered it for a 2011 Pulitzer Prize. He is also working on a collection of nonfiction essays titled, A Thicket of Thorns and Volume II of BlackRoseCity.
About the author
Frederick-Douglass Knowles II is a poet, educator and activist involved in community education and the performing arts. He has competed on two National Poetry Slam Teams and served as the 2011 Connecticut Slam Team coach. His works have been featured in Poems on the Road to Peace: A Collective Tribute to Dr. King Volume 2. Peabody Museum of Natural History by Yale University Press, The East Haddam Stage Company of Connecticut, The 13th Annual Acacia Group Conference at California State University, Folio –a Southern Connecticut State University literary magazine, Lefoko –a Botswana, Southern Africa Hip-Hop magazine and Fingernails Across the Chalkboard: Poetry and Prose on HIV/AIDS from the Black Diasporaby Third World Press. Frederick-Douglass is currently an Assistant Professor of English at Three Rivers Community College where he infuses English Composition with social injustice.
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