University of Tennessee at Chattanooga professors Earl Braggs and Herman H. Battle spoke to students and faculty of Florida A&M’s School of Journalism and Graphic Communications on Feb. 8.
Braggs read a couple of poems from his latest book, Younger Than Neil, which was published in 2009. In Younger Than Neil Braggs relives some of his life experiences.
Braggs also read a few poems from his four other books, which include Hat Dancer Blue,Walking Back From Woodstock, In Which Language Do I Keep Silent and House of Fontanka.
Kristine Snodgrass, an english professor at FAMU and the faculty advisor of “Cake: A Journal of Poetry and Art,” was the host of the event. She was excited to have Braggs in attendance.
“His work is amazing,” said Snodgrass. “Earl’s new book, Younger than Neil, is very “whitmanesque” (like Walt Whitman), and continues a long tradition of dialogue with America.”
Dr. Rick Campbell, an english professor at FAMU and long time friend of Braggs, was also excited to hear him speak.
“I always like to hear Earl read,” said Campbell. “I’ve heard him at least five times. I like to hear how he reads a poem that I have read to myself many, many times.”
However, Campbell said he was disappointed in the reaction of students.
“I wish the students had been more attentive, and I was disappointed that so many walked out in the middle of the reading,” Campbell explained. “I thought those students were very rude and disrespectful of their guests.”
While some students did leave early, others stayed and listened to his poetry.
Natascha Holmes, a third year fine arts student, said Braggs’ poetry surprised her.
“It was extremely surprising because the poems were more like stories,” Holmes explained. “It’s like the story kept unfolding and unfolding and there was a lot of repetition. You know, he would go back and repeat certain things, very specific things, and then he would go on in a totally different direction.”
Brian Gilmore, a senior public relations student, also loved Braggs’ poetry.
“The stuff he was painting as far as just getting out of boot camp and actually talking to people in advance about their war experiences,” said Gilmore, “and to get the words he was using, I feel it really painted a picture for me to get the story he was trying to tell.”
While Braggs left a good impression on many FAMU students, “Cake” is making sure students will not forget him. He will have an interview in Volume 5 of “Cake,” which will come out later this school year.