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ISBN: 978-1-955239-36-3
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Categories Chapbooks, Nomadic, Poetry

Grown-Up Elementary

Publication Date: February 2023


In June of 2023, Black Lawrence Press welcomed numerous existing and forthcoming Nomadic Press titles to our catalogue. Grown-Up Elementary was originally published by Nomadic.

Grown-Up Elementary is a critique of, and reflection on, growing up in the midst of this wicked world. The transition from childhood to adulthood is often shepherded through a way of learning, through a curriculum, through lessons that aren’t always the same for everyone. This collection asks, what will you do with what you’ve learned?


Grown-up Elementary is a book I plan to send to at least five of the best poets I know, because the writing is that fierce and the material is that urgent. D’mani Thomas has taken personal and collective memories back to school and crafted vivid, beautiful poems about 21st century American childhood. This formally experimental, lyrically astute, and utterly brave first book explores what it feels like to be one of the Black queer teenagers tasked with inheriting a broken world. Even though it declares wryly that theorizing is reserved for a subsequent semester, this is a tiny book full of big thoughts about love, time, sex, beauty, truth, racism, homophobia, the western ‘funeral industrial complex,’ accountability, building community, and so much more. One poem admits, ‘I know / things don’t stop just cause I want in poems,’ but I felt like time did stop when I read this. Thomas’s verse has my full attention.
Chiyuma Elliott, author of Vigil

What D’mani Thomas does with poem structure and style —math equations do to the minds of those who struggle through an underfunded public school system. Grown-up Elementary is rapid-fire and charming. I read the whole thing as a read, if you know, you know! This body of work is innocent and complex, a second guess covered in gold teeth the tooth fairy let you keep. On gawd, the author takes such elaborate and unapologetic risks that are painfully funny, honest, and breathtakingly curious.
Ebony Stewart, author of Home.Girl.Hood.

Some poems move us in our blood, and some move us in our spirits. These poems, D’mani’s poems, do both —and then more. Timelines of our lives are shaken here, collapse here, and D’mani offers the pieces back to us, dancing.
shivani narang, author of in another life

D’mani’s poetry is Black, queer, and hood af. A reminder Black children are always adults. They pull from the intersectional spirit realm to create a work that brings classroom side chatter, unshared struggles and recurring nightmares to life. Like lunchroom trauma stories told over uncontrollable laughter these poems are dead serious and playfully humorous. Far more relevant than any lesson in a traditional classroom. D’mani’s work is a textbook on surviving in the intersections of Blackness, queerness in a community that stay being colonized. An anthem, a eulogy and roast session. D’mani is the griot we need right now.
Cece Jordan

About the Author

© Christian Medina

D’mani Thomas

D'mani Thomas (he \ they) is a writer, nerd, and aspiring game enthusiast from Oakland, California. He’s interested in the tiny moments that capture attention spans. He has received invitations to fellowship from The Watering Hole, Foglifter, Afro Urban Society, and UC Berkeley’s Art & Research Center via The Engaging the Senses Foundation. They were recently awarded an emerging voices fellowship through PEN America for the 2023 cycle. D’mani’s debut chapbook, Grown-up Elementary,  was published earlier this year through Nomadic Press prior to the Black Lawrence Press transition. Outside of poetry, catch them studying horror movies, dancing, and eating too many fries. 

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