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  • Writer's pictureBlue Marble Media

Interview with Kirkus Award winning author Brian Broome

Author Brian Broome (left) in conversation with Blue Marble Media’s Rob Thompson (right).

A few weeks ago, on location in Pittsburgh, we spoke with Brian Broome, author of the memoir “Punch me up to the gods.” Rob heard Brian on NPR and knew instantly he wanted to interview him for Blue Marble Media’s newest documentary project.

This project will tell the stories of men as they try to reconcile societal expectations of what it means to be a man with the conflicting realities they experience. Do these expectations run counter to that which would produce physical, mental and emotional well-being? What is the impact on generations of boys who have been told what it means to look, act, fight, love, think, and even eat, like a man?

Rob grew up a white, heterosexual boy in rural Montana — a background very different from Brian, a black, gay boy in Ohio. And yet, many of the messages they both received about becoming a “real” man were the same.

The conversation covered early childhood experiences that taught Brian and Rob which parts of themselves were acceptably “masculine” and which weren’t. The interview topics ranged from emotional suppression to sex and relationships, control, physical prowess and the dismissal of creativity and intellect.

Thanks to Amy and Rodney, owners of the Harris Grill in downtown Pittsburgh, who are old friends of Brian’s, and graciously offered their restaurant for filming.

Thank you Amy (pictured) and Rodney (in the kitchen, cooking), owners of the Harrison Grill in Downtown Pittsburgh, for generously allowing us to film at the restaurant and keeping everyone caffeinated!

"Punch Me Up to the Gods: A Memoir introduces a powerful new talent in Brian Broome, whose early years growing up in Ohio as a dark-skinned Black boy harboring crushes on other boys propel forward this gorgeous, aching, and unforgettable debut. Brian’s recounting of his experiences — in all their cringe-worthy, hilarious, and heartbreaking glory — reveal a perpetual outsider awkwardly squirming to find his way in. Indiscriminate sex and escalating drug use help to soothe his hurt, young psyche, usually to uproarious and devastating effect. A no-nonsense mother and broken father play crucial roles in our misfit’s origin story. But it is Brian’s voice in the retelling that shows the true depth of vulnerability for young Black boys that is often quietly near to bursting at the seams.

Cleverly framed around the Gwendolyn Brooks poem “We Real Cool,” the iconic and loving ode to Black boyhood, Punch Me Up to the Gods is at once playful, poignant, and wholly original. Broome’s writing brims with swagger and sensitivity, bringing an exquisite and fresh voice to ongoing cultural conversations about Blackness in America."

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