the poet talks back to jupe, cool!


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My copy of Negro Side of the Moon by Earl Braggs recently came in the mail.

When I read a library book I often use stickies to mark passages that interest me. Then when I purchase the book (IF I purchase it) I go back with the library copy and mark these in my own copy. I had done a few of these in Mr. Braggs book.

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I was startled to find that the two books (the library copy and my own) did not have identical pagination.

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Upon closer examination I could see that in the new copy the couplets which make up this entire book length poem were lined out differently.

For example the opening in the library copy goes this way:

Point blank is not blank. Right in my face,
there, dangling from the daily newspaper-thin

In the copy that I purchased the open goes like this:

Point blank is not blank. Right in my face, there, dangling
from the thin white arms of a pyschological lynching tree

A close examination of the two books revealed identical ISBN numbers.

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I could find no mention of the changes between them. They seemed the same in almost every way. There were a few more pages in the library copy than in the new book.

I began poking around online to see if I could find out something about this discrepancy.


Nope. The publisher had a way to contact them on their pages, but it was only for contacting their sales department. There was a disclaimer that any message they received that wasn’t about sales would not be addressed or answered.


So I set out to find the author. He’s not on Twitter or Facebook. I did figure out that he was born in 1952 making him exactly Eileen’s age. This explained a bit of why I like his poetry so much, I understood most of his references, especially to pop culture. He’s an old guy like me.

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Professor and Poet Earl S. Braggs

Finally on his professor page for the University of Tennessee, he had contact information. His email was a .edu email. Oddly enough there was also a phone number. I felt that it wouldn’t be too weird to email him through his faculty email address so that’s what I did.

Here’s what I wrote:

Subject: A Common Reader has a Question about versions of Negro Side of the Moon


Dear Mr. Braggs.
I ran across your book, Negro Side of the Moon, at Herrick Library here in Holland Michigan. Checked it out and read it with delight. I decided to own it and purchased it from Amazon. I was surprised that the versions differed in important ways. My library copy begins “Point blank is not blank. Right in my face,” The Amazon version has a longer first line “Point blank is not blank. Right in my face, there dangling” (and subsequently the rest of the book has longer lines) than the library copy.
There is no indication that I can find that one is a different version from the other besides a small difference in numbers in the back of the book under the heading “CPSIA information can be obtained…” As far as I can tell the library copy is not a reader’s copy.
Sorry to bother you but googling this I couldn’t find any mention of the two versions.
What’s up with having two very different versions floating about out there with no editorial indication of which is the one you prefer. I’m guessing it’s the longer line since both books have the longer line blurbed.
Steve Jenkins
By 9:30 PM last night I received a reply. I don’t think he would mind if I put it up here.
Thanks for reading my book. I was thinking the other day, I write, write, write and no one reads my words. So thank you for proving me wrong. The situation is that the publisher published one version, I complained and they published the second version. I prefer the longer line version.
Wow! How cool is that? I love the interwebs.

NYTimes: Divide and Rule

Gail Collins and Bret Stephens, op-ed columnists for the NYT, go back and forth in an unusual civil conversation of people who do not agree. Worth reading. Also, the comment section is enlightening as well.

Opinion | A Really Good Thing Happening in America – The New York Times

Although it’s laudable that David Brooks, a Republican who is appalled by Trump,  is attempting to write a “good news” op-ed, I’m not sure he is convincing about his topic. I’m waiting to hear from Eileen what she thinks of this since she knows about shit like this.

What Clausewitz Can Teach Us About the Weaponization of Social Media

A recent Foreign Affairs article I have bookmarked to read.

NYTimes: The Paranoid Style in G.O.P. Politics

Krugman is commenting from the left, but another good read.

Schneier on Security: Click Here to Kill Everybody

Krugman quotes from this book. Great title.

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NYTimes: At Immigration Argument, Justice Kavanaugh Takes Hard Line

But weirdly Gorsuch doesn’t. Supreme Court oral argument that happened yesterday.

NYTimes: In London, a Temple Where You Can Worship at the Altar of Oscar Wilde

Very cool.

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NYTimes: Michael Lewis Wonders Who’s Really Running the Government

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I liked this quote a commenter put up:

“We are not a country ‘deeply divided.’ We are a country where an extremist minority has seized power through anti-democratic means and is imposing their will on the majority. Our media’s unwillingness to tell that truth is a massive, unending failure.”

Opinion | A Lesson for Kavanaugh From Another Tarnished Supreme Court Justice – The New York Times


Linda Greenhouse columns on the Supreme Court are mandatory reading for me. I thought one of the commenters (An obvious Trump supporter) was obviously someone who has drank the koolaid when he says that Kavanaugh will be one of the greatest Supreme Justices of all time. Very odd. Also I found the historical precedent of Hugo Black’s public admission of being a KKK member very fascinating.

I am reading the following 1973 article which Greenhouse quotes and links in her article.

A Klansman Joins the Court PDF


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