Julianknxx reimagines his childhood in Sierra Leone with In Praise Of Still Boys

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Part of a collection of poems, visuals and stories centring on African identity.

Interdisciplinary poet Julianknxx has shared a new piece reexamining his childhood growing up in Sierra Leone, titled In Praise Of Still Boys.

Having lived in Freetown until he was nine, the poet and his family were forced to flee the country to escape the violence of the Sierra Leone civil war.

Aiming to write what he terms a “history from below”, Julianknxx’s work seeks to dismantles elitist historical, political and sociological narratives through a movement towards a “new moral imagination.”

Looking back to Freetown across the Atlantic Ocean with In Praise Of Still Boys, Julianknxx re-examines his childhood growing up in Sierra Leone through the lives of boys living there, imagining a space in which young Sierra Leoneans can try to write their own stories into global history.

The visual poem also transports back into the poet’s past with the inclusion of Krio, an English-based creole spoken mainly in Sierra Leone.

In Praise Of Still Boys draws inspiration both from Barry Jenkins’ 2016 adaptation of Tarell Alvin McCraney’s unpublished semi-autobiographical play In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue, and a 1982 quote from Richard Pryor regarding a visit to Kenya, which reads as follows:

“So I went to the motherland; it was so beautiful. Just seeing black people in charge of everything. I’m talking about from the wino to the President. It was black. Blue-black. Original black. The kind of black where you go, ‘Black!’.”

In Praise Of Still Boys is part of a larger body of work that will be exhibited by The Vinyl Factory at 180 The Strand in Spring 2021.

Check out Julianknxx’s instagram for more information about his work.