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Brad Bathgate

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Books by Brad Bathgate
His career is write on track
By Brad Bathgate
Posted: Thursday, December 22, 2005
Last edited: Sunday, December 02, 2007
This short story was "not rated" by the Author.
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His career is write on track
By MONIQUE EL-FAIZY DAILY NEWS WRITER Wednesday, April 6th, 2005

'If you enjoy reading fiction, you might enjoy my book," the author tells a packed subway car on a Saturday morning. He gets the predictable response: People lower their gaze to avoid making eye contact with him. Undaunted, he tells his captive audience he'll sign every book he sells so when he goes on "Oprah" they'll be worth something. Little smiles start breaking out throughout the car. He begins reciting his own poetry and ears prick up. "Deep is the way girls only seem to show interest in me when they see me with another girl...So I started hanging out with lesbians...And we picked up Ladies together." People look up and ask to see a book. Inevitably, someone buys. Often they buy both the novel and the book of poetry. In his marketing plan, his biggest assets are his disarming charm - and his tenacity. "I come out and I smile, and that's what throws people off sometimes," he says. One thing's certain: He is not your average busker. Or your average subway hawker, or your average subway poet. His name, for example, depends on who he's selling and what he's doing. Those meeting him for the first time on an underground platform would be inclined to call him Brad Bathgate, because that's the name printedon the novel, "Pretty Ugly." His picture is on the back flap. But his poetry, collected in a book called "Corner Stores in the Middle of the Block," is credited to BLUE, his moniker of choice. Yes, he prefers it in capital letters. "I think it makes it more important," he explains.And the copyright is held by Derrick Wilson, the name he was given at birth and under which he competed as a boxer. Beneath each layer is another one. BLUE says he's 36 and lives with his girlfriend in Brooklyn. He was an Army brat and grew up all over Europe. He came back to the U.S. in his late teens, boxed for a while, then became a barber in Harlem. He used to watch the goings on outside his barbershop window and began writing poetry about it. Eventually he quit snipping hair and started a full-time writing career, from which came "Pretty Ugly." "The novel is about a good guy messing around with the wrong people for the sake of a girl," he says. The main characters, former high school sweethearts Apple and Chuck, meet again at the annual basketball tournament at Rucker Park on 155th St. and Eighth Ave. "It's called 'Pretty Ugly' because there's no happy ending." Rather than navigate the world of agents and publishers, BLUE decided to follow the path of many African-American authors and publish and promote the book himself. He leaves his house each morning with 35 books and tries to sell them all as quickly as he can "because they're heavy." Self-publishing has occasionally led to major, mainstream contracts, and it's an accepted path for writers of street fiction, says Calvin Reid, a news editor at Publishers Weekly. "This kind of fiction does sort of have problems when it's submitted to white agents and white editors," he explains. "It's kind of easier to wait and let the authors self-publish." In the most successful example, Karen E. Quinones Miller's "Satin Doll" hit the Essence best-seller list before Simon & Schuster signed her. Four novels later, she has been nominated for an NAACP Image Award. For selling books, BLUE's favorite subway lines are the 2, 4, A and F. "The big new models are the best ones because of the acoustics," he says. "Plus the 2 train and the 4 train, you can go from car to car and sometimes it goes express. That gives me time to recite a poem or two."I like talking to the working crowd, the morning rush hour. The evening rush hour is a little tired. The train is really quiet early in the morning."A conversation with BLUE feels like getting stuck in some poetic Wonderland. Snippets, delivered with deliberate cadence, keep spilling out. Over a cup of coffee, apropos of nothing, he offers: "People buy new clothes just to walk on the dirty streets that they helped dirty." When asked if he went to college, he says: "I went to Harlem university. I studied urban philosophy under the tutelage of con men and hustlers, fast talkers and loose women with tight bodies." BLUE also says he's boxing regularly and would like to start competing again. He's continuing to read his poetry, performing everywhere from Yale University to the Sugar Shack in Harlem. And of course, there are the subways and his real goal: "I want the world to know I love to write and I want them to hear me."  

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Reviewed by Michael Kersting
Good Job ! Spacing your paragraphs will be more impressive.

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