Orla Tinsley X G’Ra Asim: On Punk, Prose And Cross-Cultural Synergies

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Join Orla Tinsley as she talks about building a writing identity, creative craft, punk and friendship with G’Ra Asim.

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Join writer, activist and educator Orla Tinsley as she talks about building a writing identity, creative craft, punk and friendship with G’Ra Asim, the author, musician and assistant professor who will read from his book Boyz n the Void: A Mixtape to my Brother.

About Boyz n the Void:

How does one approach Blackness, masculinity, otherness, and the perils of young adulthood? For G’Ra Asim, punk music offers an outlet to express himself freely. As his younger brother, Gyasi, grapples with finding his footing in the world, G’Ra gifts him with a survival guide for tackling the sometimes treacherous cultural terrain particular to being young, Black, brainy, and weird in the form of a mixtape.

Boyz n the Void: A Mixtape To My Brother blends music and cultural criticism and personal essay to explore race, gender, class, and sexuality as they pertain to punk rock and straight edge culture. Using totemic punk rock songs on a mixtape to anchor each chapter, the book documents an intergenerational conversation between a Millennial in his 30s and his zoomer teenage brother. Author, punk musician, and straight edge kid, G’Ra Asim weaves together memoir and cultural commentary, diving into the depths of everything from theory to comic strips, to poetry to pizza commercials to mapping the predicament of the Black creative intellectual.

Praise for Boyz n the Void:

“Like any great mixtape, Asim’s compilation is the most personalized of gifts. . . . Written with love, erudition, and the utmost respect, Boyz n the Void is a genuine keepsake.” —Paul Beatty, author of The Sellout

“A spellbinding odyssey and a magnificent debut for an exciting young author and thinker.” —Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, cofounder and executive director of the African American Policy Forum

“A critical ethnography of growing up black and punk in the aughts. Asim strikes a balance between total immersion in the scene and the intimacy of a letter sent between brothers. . . . Boyz n the Void is essential reading for black weirdos, punks of all ages, and those invested in impeccably rendered American history.” —Cyrée Jarelle Johnson, author of Slingshot

Orla Tinsley

Orla Tinsley is an award-winning writer, educator and activist. She has an MFA from Columbia University where she began teaching Creative Writing in 2018. That same year she received the Human Rights Award from The Bar of Ireland for her work as a healthcare activist and educator. Her memoir Salty Baby was nominated for an Irish Book Award in 2011 and her documentary, Warrior, was nominated for a New York Film and TV Award in 2019. She was voted Kildare’s Greatest Person by the people of Kildare that same year beating off stiff competition from the ghost of Antarctic explorer, Earnest Shakleton. She has received numerous writing awards including Medical Journalist of the Year and the Gay and Lesbian Federation of Ireland’s Journalist/Broadcaster of the Year. Her work has been published in The Irish Times, Small Orange Journal, The Irish Independent and MarketWatch. She currently teaches beginners and advanced Creative Nonfiction Workshops at The Irish Writers Center.

G’Ra Asim

G’Ra Asim, a writer and musician, is an assistant professor of English at Washington University in St. Louis. Asim is the author of Boyz n the Void: A Mixtape To My Brother (Beacon Press 2021). He has served as a Writing Director at the African American Policy Forum and a Graduate Teaching Fellow in Columbia University’s Undergraduate Writing Program. His work has appeared in Slate, Salon, Guernica, The Baffler and The New Republic. When not writing or teaching, he sings, plays bass and writes lyrics for DIY pop punk quintet babygotbacktalk, who were named one of Alternative Press’s “17 rising Black alternative bands who are leading the next generation.

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