Cover To Cover is the anchor program for GPB’s literary coverage. Cover To Cover features a collection of distinctive Southern voices interviewing Georgia writers, Southern writers, and writers dealing with the South. The GPB Southern Lit Cadre will provide you with a varied, weekly glimpse at fiction, non-fiction, history, poetry, and even the occasional ‘old school’ nod to Flannery O’Connor or William Faulkner.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Cover to Cover Goes Weekly!

It seems as though 2008 will start on a high note for lovers of Georgia literature...and for me.

Beginning in January, Cover to Cover will become a weekly show. It will still air at 8PM Sunday evenings but will be heard each week rather than just the last Sunday of the month.

Since the show debuted in January 1998, it has always been a monthly production. Now, GPB is increasing its commitment to arts and cultural coverage across the state with this expansion of Cover to Cover.

The show will be essentially the same as it has always been; each week a Georgia author will join me live in the studio to talk and take listener calls about one of his or her books. Given the increased frequency of the broadcast, I will be expanding the show’s remit slightly.

One thing that has been clear over the last ten years of Cover to Cover is that there are many people across the state who listen to the show because they themselves are writers, whether amateur or professional. We often get calls from listeners asking the authors about how they write, how to go about finding an agent, or how to get their book published; with a weekly show I will now be able to devote time to discussing the craft and mechanics of writing.

You can also expect to see Cover to Cover out and about more often in the future. From time to time in the past we have recorded shows in front of an audience at venues in different parts of the state. We’ve been to Columbus, Macon, Hawkinsville and Augusta, and these traveling shows have proved a great way for us to get out and meet Cover to Cover listeners and raise GPB’s profile in the community. Obviously the opportunity to do this more often is very welcome.

If you would like to see Cover to Cover come to your community, email me at the address at the end of this blog entry.

We will continue to videotape each show and archive them on the GPB website for on-demand viewing. The Cover to Cover podcast will also continue, as will this blog.

Another new feature you’ll see come January is a daily 5-minute segment airing at 12:54PM each weekday called the Cover to Cover Footnote.

Designed to increase our cultural coverage and promote each weekly show, the Cover to Cover Footnote will be a literary daybook with segments focusing on a wide range of topics all concerned with Georgia writing and writers.

I know what you’re thinking, how can St.John do all this on top of everything else he does at GPB?

Well, I no longer have the management responsibilities I had before and so have the opportunity to devote myself almost exclusively to the show which was my brainchild all those years ago and which I have nurtured like a child. I could not be happier than spending my energies in a more creative way and immersing myself in the readers and writers of this state.

Here is the Cover to Cover schedule for January:

January 6: Terry Kay, The Book of Marie (Mercer University Press, 2007)
January 13: Julie L. Cannon, The Romance Readers’ Book Club (Plume, 2007)
January 20: Steve Berry, The Venetian Betrayal (Ballantine Books, 2007)
January 27: Man Martin, Days of the Endless Corvette (Carroll & Graf, 2007)

I hope you’ll make Sunday evenings at 8 a time to sit down and listen to Cover to Cover on your radio or at your computer (the GPB broadcast signal is streamed live at, and don’t forget to catch the Cover to Cover Footnote weekdays at 12:54PM.

More Cover to Cover, more great books, more great authors. It’s all on your GPB station. I hope you’ll tune in.

[Comments and questions? Email me at]

Monday, December 17, 2007

We'll Always Have Paris

Those who know me well know that one of my dreams is to move to Paris.

I lived in France for two years before coming to the U.S. to attend graduate school at UGA. I taught English for a year in a middle school in the small town of Cluses in Haute Savoie, about 30 miles southeast of Geneva. The second year I was teaching in the English department at the Université de Nancy in the northeast, close to Strasbourg and the German border.

I had recently completed my B.A. in French at the University of Liverpool and so spoke the language with a certain fluency. Armed with my spoken French, I was able to make the most of my two years among the natives, and they were two of the happiest years of my life.

Although I never lived in Paris during my Gallic sojourn, I made a point of visiting often. This was a relatively easy thing to do since the French have a marvelous national rail system, the SNCF, and the TGV (Train à Grande Vitesse), a high-speed train that flies cross-country and delivers you in just a few hours to the City of Lights.

Paris has always held a certain fascination for me. In 1969, when I was seven, my sister and I were sent by our parents to spend a couple of weeks with my aunt and uncle who were then living in the northern Paris suburbs (Enghien-les-Bains). It was during this visit that I first went up the Eiffel Tower, first saw Sacré Coeur, and learned my first words of French.

Since then, I have been back to Paris on many occasions and each time my feet touch Parisian soil, I feel as if I’ve just walked through the gates of Heaven. I become Baudelaire’s flâneur walking the streets of my city taking in the sights, the sounds and the smells. It is indeed a special city and one which I would love to call home.

This paean to the French capital is my way of introducing a book that was brought to my attention recently.

You will remember from a recent blog entry that a couple of weeks ago I narrated the Nativity story from the Gospel of Luke at the Christmas Candlelight Celebration held in Rome, Ga. Afterwards I was approached by a lady who did something I dread; she thrust a book into my hand.

Now you have to understand that, given what I do, one of the hazards of going out in public is that people give me books they think I should feature on Cover to Cover. I can attend an event and come away with an armful of books given to me by their authors who would love to be on the show.

While I admire these authors’ passion, I usually cannot consider most of the books for a number of reasons: they are self-published; they are poetry; they are of very limited appeal; or they are not of the necessary quality to recommend to the Cover to Cover audience.

The book I was given at the Rome event, however, was different. It’s about Paris!

Nancy Griffin, the lady who put the book in my hand, is not its author. She was simply bringing a book to my attention she thought I would be interested in. It’s by a Georgia author and concerns a city I know well.

The book is Tea with Sister Anna: A Paris Journal, (Golden Apple Press, 2005) by Rome visual and performance artist Susan Gilbert Harvey.

When their mother died in the 1990s, Susan and her siblings were faced with the task of disposing of their parents’ accumulated possessions. In the attic Susan had to unpack the last unopened container: Sister Anna’s steamer trunk. Sister Anna was Susan’s great aunt, sister to her maternal grandmother.

Anna McNulty Lester was born in Conway, SC, in 1862. The family moved to Rome, Ga., in 1868. Anna studied art and in 1887 she became head of the art department at Rome’s Shorter College. In 1897 she left for Paris where she studied art before returning to Rome in December 1898. She died of tuberculosis in Rome on October 17, 1900 at the age of 37.

In the journal and letters of her great aunt, Susan finds a kindred spirit. As she points out in the book’s first pages,

Anna taught art in women’s colleges, and her oils, watercolors, and painted china are family heirlooms. I construct art from junkyard objects, but despite our different media, Anna and I have things in common. We left Rome, Georgia, to attend colleges in Virginia, and sixty years after Anna packed this trunk to study life drawing in Paris, I enrolled in the Hollins Abroad-Paris program.
Susan was an undergraduate at Hollins College in Virginia from where she graduated with a degree in art history in 1959. In 1957 she had traveled to Paris on the college study abroad program, and 50 years later, to mark the anniversary of the founding of that program, Susan published Tea with Sister Anna.

In 1998, having poured over Sister Anna’s journal and letters, Susan returned to Paris, in part to relive her year on the Hollins Abroad-Paris program, but also to retrace her great-aunt’s steps through Montparnasse, find her boarding houses and studios, and thus connect with her spirit.

In Tea with Sister Anna, which Susan points out is a work of creative non-fiction, she interlaces her life and experience of Paris in the late 20th century with those of Sister Anna almost a century before. She uses many of Sister Anna’s letters in the book as well as many of her own, written home in 1957, which her mother had kept.

Sister Anna’s letters paint a wonderful picture of fin-de-siècle Paris, and Susan Harvey’s story is a paean not just to the eternal enchantment of Paris, but also to the creative spirit and the women who possess it.

[I always welcome your comments and questions at]

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Lindberg Award in Photos

As I mentioned in a recent blog entry (Tuesday, November 20), the Stanley W. Lindberg Award was presented Saturday, December 1st at the Georgia Museum of Art on the University of Georgia campus in Athens.

This year, the biennial award, which recognizes outstanding contributions to the literary life of Georgia, went to Terry Kay, author of some of the finest Georgia novels ever written such as To Dance With The White Dog, The Valley of Light and The Book of Marie.

Making the presentation to Kay in front of a crowd of over 100 fans and literati was his longtime friend and fellow novelist Anne Rivers Siddons.

I was the M.C. for the event which was followed by a buffet reception.

Here are some photos from the evening as proof that we all had a good time!

Anne Rivers Siddons (center) and Terry Kay (right) talk to one of the guests after the award ceremony

Terry Kay poses with some of his fans after the ceremony. (The man on the right in the background is one of Terry's brothers).

William Starr (Executive Director of the Georgia Center for the Book) and I discuss who has the nicer red tie. (I do!)

At the reception, Dr. Pearl McHaney (English professor at Georgia State University and a Eudora Welty specialist) and I discuss the symbolism of animals in the works of Terry Kay! (In the background, wearing the tuxedo and bowtie, is Tom Bell, co-founder of the Decatur Book Festival).

Judy Long (center), Editor-in-Chief at Hill Street Press in Athens, swoons after I pay her a particularly nice compliment. Terry Kay (right) looks at me thinking "I don't believe he just said that!"

Myself with Judy Long (left) and Pearl McHaney (center), the co-chairs of my international fan club!

I have no idea what I've just said here. I obviously thought it was very funny, but neither Judy Long nor Terry Kay thought so. Oh well!

(All photos: JB Belonio)

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

A Roman Christmas

One of the things I like best about my job is the opportunity to travel around the state and meet folks who listen to one of our stations or watch GPB TV. It’s humbling to hear how much people enjoy GPB’s programming and how important it is to their lives. And as I technically work for the members of GPB (since they provide the funding for our programming), these opportunities remind me of what my priorities should be.

I have one such opportunity tonight. I will be in Rome (Georgia, not Italy!) to take part in a new community-wide event the city’s organizing for the first time.

The Christmas Candlelight Concert takes place tonight at 6:30PM in Historic Downtown Rome. It features a 300-voice community choir comprised of community, church, and school groups accompanied by a large orchestra.

The choir will process by candlelight from City Hall down Broad Street and into The Forum Civic Center where it will join the orchestra and narrators for traditional Christmas music and the reading of the Christmas story.

I will be narrating the Nativity story from the King James version of the Gospel of Luke.

This first ever Christmas Candlelight Concert in Rome is, of course, free and open to all comers.

You can watch the processional along Broad Street beginning at 6:30PM before entering The Forum for the concert. Alternatively, you can go straight to The Forum early where the orchestra will present a selection of Christmas music. The performance by the combined choirs, orchestra, and narration begins at 7:00PM inside The Forum.

The massed choir includes the following groups: Three Rivers Singers; Shorter College; Armuchee Middle School; First Baptist Church of Rome; First United Methodist Church of Rome; Second Avenue Methodist Church; St. Peters Episcopal Church Youth Choir; Trinity United Methodist Church; Pepperrell Middle School; Pepperell High School; Model Middle School & Model High School; and Westminster Presbyterian Church. They will all be under the direction of Kam Malone.

The orchestra, under the direction of Sam Baltzer is comprised of the Northwest Georgia Winds & New Horizons Band.

Also taking part will be the First Baptist Church Handbell Choir under the direction of Keith Reaves; the Unity Christian School Steel Drum Band under the direction of Bill King; and soloist Dr. Regina Zona, Assistant Professor of Music at Shorter College.

This Christmas Candlelight Concert promises to be a spectacular event and the start of a wonderful tradition in Floyd County.

I’m grateful to have been asked to participate and look forward to meeting lots of GPB listeners while I’m there. The GPB station in Rome, WGPB/97.7FM, is the newest in the GPB radio network of 16 stations across the state, and this event gives me the chance to reinforce our presence in Northwest Georgia and meet new listeners.

If you live in Northwest Georgia I hope you’ll come along this evening. The Holiday season is upon us and tonight’s concert should put everyone in the mood for a joyous Christmastime.

See you tonight maybe?

[I always welcome your comments and questions at]