The Art District on Brainerd is celebrating written arts with a reading June 4 and invites the public to the free event.
"I think Chattanooga is one of the richest creative writing scenes of the places I've visited," said Earl S. Braggs, a poet and professor in the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's Department of English. "Someone a long time ago made sure that when anyone talked about growth in Chattanooga the arts were involved in that design."
Braggs and fellow graduates of Vermont College's MFA program will read poetry and fiction pieces on stage at the Comedy Catch June 4 from 10:30 a.m. to noon and from 1:30 to 3 p.m. Featured readers will be Braggs, Kitty Forbes, Sybil Baker, Ruzha Cleaveland, Anne Vance Bright, Rebecca Cook, Gwen Mullins, Rachel Crumble, Tom Balazs and Helga Kidder.
"An MFA program gives you the opportunity to get a job that will afford you the time to set aside and write," said Braggs, who graduated from the program in 1989. "I think most people without going to any kind of writing program will eventually end up just as good of a writer, but the format of the MFA program cuts a lot of years from a writer's development."
The Art District on Brainerd, located next to the Missionary Ridge Tunnels, is an assortment of businesses from the 41-year-old Gannon Art Center and well-established Out of the Blue Café and Kites to the newer Foxy K-9 Pet Grooming Center and the soon to be relocated Zombi Candi Boutique. The local businesses will host open houses during the hour-and-a-half break, inviting audience members to amble in and see what the district has to offer.
Gannon Art Center, which specializes in custom frames, features a gallery and sells art supplies, will offer punch and hors d'oeuvres the day of the reading.
"We support all kinds of events in the neighborhood," said Peggy Roselle, owner of Out of the Blue. "We want to be here, a place where they can come during the break to sit and visit and discuss the reading. For people like Earl, it's a nice place to come if they just need a quiet place to write."
Braggs said there are only 1,200 graduates from Vermont's MFA program and about 15 of those live in the Chattanooga area. He said each student is given the opportunity to work one on one with a mentor in the same field. He remembers studying poetry under Linda Hull. Although she died in a car accident in 1994, Braggs said she continues to be a positive influence on his poetry, which he describes as a "multi-faceted" and "multi-focused" approach to seeing the world. As a poet and teacher of writing in Chattanooga, Braggs said he feels Chattanooga supports all the arts.