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The Poetic Memoir and Meditative Jazz Riff

from Fishtown to Fresno


Earl S. Braggs &

Thoreau Lovell

reading and in celebration of A Boy Named Boy,

Braggs’ new book forthcoming from Wet Cement Press.


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“People have long told stories like our story but most never quite as long.” And so begins Earl S. Braggs complex jazz memoir of growing up black and poor in rural North Carolina.  What is long about Braggs’ story is not its length but how deeply the roots of race and history reach through the narrative in every unexpected direction. From the haphazard pleasures of a childhood in a rural shack in segregated “fishtown” to the civil unrest of Wilmington NC in the Civil Rights Era to the poet’s coming of age as a writer in San Francisco.  In the midst of familiar injustices, Braggs blows open our conceptions about good and bad, revealing violence where we expect safety and friendships where we expect derision. A white man presses a revolver into the boy’s head, the bookmobile lady stops so he can get on. While the borders of Hampstead were segregated black and white, the design of this narrative never is. “Improvising day in day out, the velocity of nothingness, we channeled hard times in directions away from our hearts.”

Wet Cement Press

Pub Date January 2021, Pre-Orders November 2020. 

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A North Carolina native from the rural-back-woods-fishing community of Hampstead, Earl Sherman Braggs is a UC Foundation and Battle Professor of English at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Braggs is the author of thirteen collections of poetry. Hat Dancing with Miss Bessie Smith and Negro Side of the Moon are his latest. Among his many awards are the Anhinga Poetry Prize, the Cleveland (Ohio) State Poetry Prize (unable to accept, manuscript won in two places at the same time), the C&R Poetry Prize, the Jack Kerouac International Literary Prize, the Knoxville News Sentinel Poetry Award and the Gloucester County Poetry Prize. Braggs’ novel, Looking for Jack Kerouac was a finalist for the James Jones First Novel Contest. Cruising Weather Wind Blue is forthcoming from Anhinga press. Obama’s Children is forthcoming from Madville Press.

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Wet Cement Press publisher and editor Thoreau Lovell is a poet and prose writer currently living in Berkeley, California. He is the author of Wilson Wiley Variations (Wet Cement Press) and Amnesia’s Diary (Ex Nihilo Press) He has an MA from the School of Information Management and Systems at U.C. Berkeley and an MA in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University, where he worked for a number of years in the J. Paul Leonard Library as an administrator responsible for technology and collection access.

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