Big Reads 

It's a big week for African-American writers and their readers (and listeners) at Rhodes College. On Tuesday, the college continues its salute to Ernest Gaines' A Lesson Before Dying when it hosts a panel discussion among area educators on various aspects of Gaines' National Book Critics Circle award-winning novel. The panel is just one event, among many, making up this spring's "Big Read," which Rhodes — thanks to a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts — is hosting locally for the second year in a row. "The Big Read," a nationwide initiative, is an outreach program that's addressing the decline in literary reading. It deserves your support.

But listen here. That beat you hear is the basic sound of hip-hop, but those lyrics are the stuff of pure poetry. That's according to Adam Bradley, author of Book of Rhymes: The Poetics of Hip Hop (BasicCivitas). Bradley will be at Rhodes on Wednesday, April 1st, to discuss and sign copies of the book, and he'll be on hand the next night too to discuss a real whopper of a never-finished novel: Three Days Before the Shooting by Ralph Ellison. Part of that novel was published in 1999 as Juneteenth, but Bradley will be talking about Ellison's original, 1,200-page manuscript, a work that Ellison spent more than 40 years composing and a work that Bradley has been working on since the age of 19. Bradley's co-editing Random House's forthcoming edition of Three Days Before the Shooting for its Modern Library series, and look for Bradley's critical study, Ralph Ellison-in-Progress, this fall. His co-edited Yale Anthology of Rap is due in 2010. For the time being, though, Bradley's at Rhodes. What's more: All of these events are free and open to the public.

"A Lesson Before Dying" Panel Discussion, Barret Library, Room 051, Tuesday, March 31st, 7 p.m. For more information, call 843-3745.

Adam Bradley: Hip-hop Lecture and booksigning, Blount Auditorium, Buckman Hall, Wednesday, April 1st, 7 p.m.; "Three Days Before the Shooting" lecture, Tuthill Performance Hall, Thursday, April 2nd, 7 p.m. For more information, call 843-3135.

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