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.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Cornel West Out Loud

It's often said that the age of the public intellectual in America has passed, and with the fractured nature of our modern culture, perhaps it has. Princeton professor and prolific author Cornel West qualifies, then, as the last of a breed.

In fact, in the course of our Cover to Cover interview, West attributes at least some of his incredible productivity to the fact that he might as well come from another time period: he doesn't own a computer and has never written or received an email. He's too busy reading, learning and transforming that knowledge into his distinctive style of literary agitating.

West was in Atlanta promoting his memoir: Brother West: Living and Loving Out Loud, which he co-wrote with David Ritz. Why would such a learned man of letters use a co-author for his own memoir? West explains that he wanted the book to flow in the "call and response" blues tradition, thus the pairing with Ritz, who has written biographies of Ray Charles, Marvin Gaye and others, makes sense. The renowned social philosopher prefers to view himself as a blues man.

A conversation with West is like being caught in a whirlwind of erudition and metaphor. His life's pursuits of scholarship, writing, political action, speaking, performing, and admonishing have a unique energy that jump off the page of his book and can be heard as he discusses his story.

Cover to Cover generally focuses on books and authors rooted in the South, and while West grew up in Sacramento, California and has spent most of his career rooted in New England, the constant theme in his work is the one that won't let go of our region and in fact is the title of his most well-known book: Race Matters.

As Black History Month continues on GPB's Cover to Cover, we are grateful to be able to share the singular presence of Cornel West.

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