Listening to oral storytelling during his childhood while growing up in the Appalachian foothills of Alabama helped Rick Bragg hone his writing abilities. As a Pulitzer Prize winner for feature writing, a best-selling author, newspaper writer, and current journalism professor at the University of Alabama, Rick Bragg comes to Chattanooga State Community College as its featured author during the award-winning Writers@Work series April 13-17.
“My grandfather on my daddy’s side and my grandma on my momma’s side used to try and cuss their miseries away. They could out-cuss any damn body I have ever seen. I am only an amateur cusser at best, but I inherited other things from these people who grew up on the ridges and deep in the hollows of northeastern Alabama, the foothills of the Appalachians. They taught me, on a thousand front porch nights, as a million jugs passed from hand to hand, how to tell a story,” shares Bragg.
Mr. Bragg won the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing in 1996 for his work at The New York Times. He is the author of two best-selling memoirs, “All Over But the Shoutin’” and “Ava’s Man,” as well as “The Prince of Frogtown” and his newly released biography, “Jerry Lee Lewis: His Own Story.” Bragg has told stories and taught writing at Harvard University, the Poynter Institute for Media Studies, Boston University, the University of South Florida, and other colleges.
Before joining The New York Times in 1994 as a domestic correspondent, he worked at several newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times and the St. Petersburg Times, covering murders and unrest in Haiti as a metro reporter, the Oklahoma City bombing, the Jonesboro killings, the Susan Smith trial, and more as a national correspondent based in Atlanta. He later became the paper’s Miami bureau chief just in time for Elian Gonzalez’s arrival and the international controversy surrounding the Cuban boy.
Bragg attended Harvard University as a Nieman Fellow from 1992 to 1993 (“the only real college I ever had”) and in addition to his Pulitzer Prize; he is the recipient of the American Society of Newspaper Editors Distinguished Writing Award and 31 other national, regional and state writing awards. He has had stories included in Best Newspaper Writing 1991, Best of the Press 1988, and two journalism textbooks on good writing and foreign reporting.
In addition to Bragg, Writers@Work also will welcome Lila Quintero Weaver, author-illustrator of a debut graphic novel that explores the connections between immigration and race, “Darkroom: A Memoir in Black and White” (The University of Alabama Press, 2012). “Darkroom” is the story of Weaver’s family’s immigration to the American South from Argentina in 1961 when she was five years old. Their arrival in Alabama coincided with significant developments in the Civil Rights Movement, including the dismantling of Jim Crow laws, a night of racial violence that exploded one block from the family’s back door, and a tense and protracted period of public school desegregation. Because Weaver is also a lifelong dabbler in the visual arts, she created “Darkroom” as a graphic novel through her own hand-drawn images.
A native of Buenos Aires, Argentina, Lila Quintero Weaver grew up in Alabama, where she still resides with her husband. She holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Alabama. “Darkroom,” her first book, was named a finalist in the Small Press Expo’s Ignatz 2012 award for “Promising New Talent” and listed in Notable Books for a Global Society by the Children’s Literature and Reading Special Interest Group of the International Reading Association. In addition to writing and making art, her passions are social justice and hunger alleviation.
In an interview for Publisher’s Weekly, Weaver explained that she chose the graphic novel format because “words alone didn’t seem to convey the emotional weight I felt about the events and issues the book depicts.”
Writers@Work will hold three free public events. On Monday, April 13, join the writers at the Chattanooga Public Library Auditorium downtown a 6 p.m. for readings, book signings and a Q&A session. Tuesday, April 14, brings the writers back to the main Chattanooga State campus Humanities Theatre at 7 p.m. where the public can enjoy a “Behind the Writer” interview, dessert reception and book signing. On Wednesday, April 15, Bragg and Weaver will appear at the Hunter Museum beginning at 6:30 p.m. for readings, book signings and a dessert reception.
The on-campus events will focus on Chattanooga State student writers, faculty and staff. Events will take place periodically throughout the week of April 13-17 in the Library Mobile Classroom in the IMC building. For more information about the event, please contact Erica Lux at Erica.firstname.lastname@example.org.