Join us for a reading and discussion of Antonio Michael Downing’s memoir SAGA BOY: MY LIFE OF BLACKNESS AND BECOMING (out Sep. 14, 2021) with author Ed Pavlić.
The story of Downing’s sudden displacement from Trinidad to rural Canada at age 11—and its traumatizing ripple effects throughout his life—SAGA BOY is a lucid exploration of the forces that fracture (racism, colonialism, addiction, toxic masculinity) and an ode to creativity (“that desperate act of survival”), metamorphosis, and seeking help for one’s wounds.
Also a musician who performs under the name “John Orpheus,” Downing writes with a singularly vibrant voice, painting a rich, sensory portrait of the people, places, and stories that “wrote him.” In SAGA BOY, he finally writes his own.
Antonio Michael Downing is the author of Saga Boy. He grew up in southern Trinidad, northern Ontario, Brooklyn, and Kitchener. He is a musician, writer, and activist based in Toronto. His debut novel, Molasses, was published to critical acclaim. In 2017, he was named by the RBC Taylor Prize as one of Canada’s top emerging authors for nonfiction. He performs and composes music as John Orpheus.
Ed Pavlić is the author of the novel Another Kind of Madness. Widely published as a poet, he is the author of the collection Visiting Hours at the Color Line, winner of the 2013 National Poetry Series, as well as several others, including Live at the Bitter End: A Trial by Opera, Let’s Let That Are Not Yet: Inferno, and Let It Be Broke. He has published essays, poems, fiction, and dramatic pieces in numerous magazines and journals, including Boston Review, Harvard Review, Ploughshares, and Callaloo. Widely respected for his scholarship, his critical work includes ‘Who Can Afford to Improvise?’: James Baldwin and Black Music, the Lyric and the Listeners and Crossroads Modernism: Descent and Emergence in African American Literary Culture. A recipient of the Author of the Year Award from the Georgia Writers Association and a fellowship from the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute at Harvard University, he has received the Albert Christ-Janer Creative Research Award, the Darwin Turner Memorial Award from African American Review, and many other awards and fellowships. Pavlić teaches English at the University of Georgia.