Douglas Manuel

Douglas Manuel was born in Anderson, Indiana and now resides in Long Beach, California. He received a BA in Creative Writing from Arizona State University, an MFA in poetry from Butler University, and a PhD in English Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Southern California. His first collection of poems, Testify, won an IBPA Benjamin Franklin Award for poetry, and his poems and essays can be found in numerous literary journals, magazines, and websites, most recently Zyzzyva, Pleiades, and the New Orleans Review. He has traveled to Egypt and Eritrea with The University of Iowa’s International Writing Program to teach poetry. A recipient of the Dana Gioia Poetry Award and a fellowship from the Borchard Foundation Center on Literary Arts, he is a Bayard Rustin Fellow at Whittier College and teaches at Spalding University’s low-res MFA program.

All Books

Trouble Funk

Douglas Manuel

Publication Date: April 25, 2023

$22.00 Tradepaper

ISBN: 9781636280684


The speaker of Testify returns to divulge his parents’ love story. Set in Anderson, Indiana in the 1960s, ’70s, and ’80s, Trouble Funk exposes ways Black Love is thwarted but never destroyed by racism, classism, and sexism. Eschewing the “lyrical I” in favor of a third person omniscient point of view, this text exhibits how the latter half of the twentieth century rhymes with our current moment when it comes to political division, the hardships that Black folks face, and the rise of toxic right-wing policies. In many ways, Trouble Funk serves as a prequel to Testify in which Douglas Manuel seeks to better understand and love himself, his family, and his country.


In these stunning poems of love and longing, Douglas Manuel offers us richly textured lyrics inspired by three decades of Black music, refreshing nostalgic beats. This book is a playlist for Black joy and perseverance, each line smooth as Soul Train and studded with sonic delights. I will carry these playful, resonant poems with me—”lift and flit, lift and flit”—catching their sweet signal, like late-night radio in the wee hours.
—Kiki Petrosino, author of White Blood: a Lyric of Virginia


Douglas Manuel

Publication Date: April 25, 2017

$17.95 Tradepaper

ISBN: 978-1-59709-045-2


Testify is a book of elegiac interrogations of race in America; the poems reside in ambivalent spaces that seek a steady reconciliation between past and present, self and family, and faith and skepticism.

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.


“In his breathtaking debut, Testify, Douglas Manuel charts the raw emotional complexities and the impossible daily reckonings that confront a young black man coming of age today in America. Faced at every turn with condescending, fixed assumptions about his ‘proper’ role in his community and culture, the speaker faces each indictment with a stunning and searing intelligence. Each powerful testimony in this collection stands as evidence of an eloquent and dramatic new voice in American poetry.”—David St. John

“In Douglas Manuel’s Testify the act of witnessing is by turns burdensome and bittersweet, narrative and lyrical, ecstatic and irreverent. Here the holy words are the ones that offer no easy epiphanies yet grant us a dazzling, off-kilter compassion and a strange, surprising grace. These potent poems testify to those ambivalent moments that might rend or right us, as when an interracial couple drive past a truck with a Confederate flag painted on its back windshield and from which a little boy turns to smile and wave: his blond hair // split down the middle like a Bible / left open to the Book of Psalms.”—Anna Journey, author of The Atheist Wore Goat Silk


LitHub features Douglas Manuel, author of TROUBLE FUNK!

By Diana Arterian The poet Douglas Manuel’s debut poetry collection Testify follows the topic so many of us (this poet included) attend to first: family. Testify attended to the stark realities of Manuel’s childhood in Anderson, Indiana, a place that once had a burgeoning Black middle class—until the General Motors factory shut down. Anderson was subsequently a community depressed […]

John Weir interviewed for Bay Area Reporter!

If patience is a virtue, then fans of award-winning gay writer John Weir are among the most virtuous people you will ever find. Weir won a Lambda Literary Award for his remarkable 1989 debut novel The Irreversible Decline of Eddie Socket and then had his readers wait 17 years for his second novel, 2006’s devastating What I […]

THE RUMPUS highlights conversation between Percival Everett and Douglas Manuel

WHEN THE SH*T HITS THE FAN: A CONVERSATION WITH PERCIVAL EVERETT BY DOUGLAS MANUEL April 15th, 2019 During finals week, right before the semester was over, I was given the opportunity to talk to Percival Everett about his new book, The Book of Training by Colonel Hap Thompson of Roanoke, VA, 1843: Annotated, From the Library of […]

Pasadena Now article on the PMCA 15th anniversary and RHP reading

Pasadena Now covered the Pasadena Museum of California Art 's 15th anniversary events, which included a poetry reading by Red Hen Press authors William Archila, Douglas Manuel and Lisa C. Krueger.

Red Hen Press to Receive $15,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts

Pasadena, CA – National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Jane Chu has approved more than $30 million in grants as part of the NEA's first major funding announcement for fiscal year 2017. Included in this announcement is an Art Works grant of $15,000 to Red Hen Press to support the publication and promotion of one […]


PEN America Interviews John Weir, Author of YOUR NOSTALGIA IS KILLING ME!

The title of your book Your Nostalgia is Killing Me, seems to be an ironic one. The protagonist’s nostalgia is seemingly running havoc on his own life. He can’t escape revisiting the past and all the losses he has incurred: losses in love, familial losses, and the loss wrought by the AIDS epidemic.

Novelist Kate Rounds reviews John Weir’s YOUR NOSTALGIA IS KILLING ME!

For three decades, the novelist and short story writer John Weir has been spooling out wry, wrenching narratives that ground us in time and place. Now, Red Hen Press has released Your Nostalgia is Killing Me, winner of the Grace Paley Prize for Short Fiction. These 11 linked stories return us to Weir’s world of gay […]

John Weir’s YOUR NOSTALGIA IS KILLING ME Reviewed In Gay City News!

John Weir’s “Your Nostalgia Is Killing Me,” alternately identified as “Short Stories” and “Linked Stories” — 11 in all — is wise, often funny, and poignant yet unsentimental testimony from a narrator named John Weir, whose formative life experiences were his bullying as a youth and the death of “half the people I knew when […]

YOUR NOSTALGIA IS KILLING ME Reviewed on NY Journal of Books!

“Weir writes beautifully, elegantly.” The horrific AIDS epidemic inspired a flourishing of literature by writers more openly, proudly, often angrily, gay than their predecessors had been. These young writers had been surrounded by suffering and death from a devastating disease, accompanied by rejection from family and indifference from government and the medical establishment. John Weir’s […]

John Weir’s YOUR NOSTALGIA IS KILLING ME reviewed in Five South!

John Weir’s linked stories explore sexuality and separation through platonic love, activism, art, and death — in a time when gender was confined to “girl, boy, or faggot” and AIDS ravages a generation. Stories span the 70s, 80s, and 90s as an unnamed narrator navigates the long aftermath of an epidemic and tries to close […]

John Weir’s YOUR NOSTALGIA IS KILLING ME reviewed in Kirkus Reviews!

Weir’s linked collection of bittersweet, often witty stories elucidates almost 50 years in the life of a gay White man in the U.S., from enduring school taunts in 1970s New Jersey to experiencing the horrors of AIDS to that epidemic’s continuing reverberations for a scarred (and mostly HIV-positive) generation.