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 23, 2010

Through the Eyes of a New Generation

Noni Carter is only 18 years old. Despite her young age, she has recently published her first novel - Good Fortune. Good Fortune was inspired by her great-great-great-great grandmother - Rose Caldwell. Noni and her siblings listened to the stories of Rose and other accounts of her ancestors' histories around the family's kitchen table. Rose's story in particular inspired Noni to embark on a three-year journey researching her family's history and the history of black America.

The book that started as a short story has evolved into a historical slave narrative, tracing the story of Ayanna Bahati from Africa to a plantation in Tennessee, and finally to freedom.

Noni's desire is not only to teach history to young African Americans, but also to inpsire them to value and embrace their legacy.

Noni Carter is a student at Harvard University. She is not only a novelist, but also a classical pianist and poet.
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Monday, February 15, 2010

Pearl Cleage: Activism and Writing

Atlanta-based essayist, poet, journalist and novelist Pearl Cleage joins us for Cover to Cover this week. Cleage ventures into new territory as an artist and American in her latest novel Seen It All and Done the Rest. Cleage talks about how she’s been as much an activist in her life as an author. And the activist in her, fighting for civil rights as an African American in the 1960’s and 70’s and women’s rights after, dissociated herself from being American.

Cleage explores this idea with a new heroine, Josephine Evans, an actress of the international stage who returns stateside. Through Evans and the characters she encounters (some familiar— Abbie Browning’s back and Zora too), Cleage breathes life into current events and the issues of our age that read black and white in newspaper headlines. Josephine asks questions like "What is the free woman’s role in wartime," and with the full palette of human feelings, Cleage masterfully answers.

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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Lift Every Voice and Sing

The writer Charles Johnson once wrote that his forbear James Weldon Johnson (no relation) had a life story that read like “the biography of two or three men.” Indeed, the earlier Johnson was an activist, attorney, administrator, educator, songwriter, poet, politician, ambassador and novelist. Perhaps Johnson is best known for penning the lyrics to “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” which the NAACP has adopted as its anthem. Every so often we dedicate an episode of Cover to Cover to an important Southern writer outside of the contemporary realm. James Weldon Johnson is just such a writer, and we are delighted to turn our focus toward his work this Sunday evening.

For that purpose we welcome to the show Dr. Rudolph P. Byrd. In addition to serving as the Goodrich C. White Professor of American Studies at Emory University, Dr. Byrd is also the driving force behind the James Weldon Johnson Institute for Advanced Interdisciplinary Studies at Emory. Essentially, the JWJI is an administrative outlet promoting scholarship and research. Dr. Byrd has written and edited many books, including The Essential Writings of James Weldon Johnson, which was published by Random House in late 2008.

Dr. Byrd is the perfect man to lead the JWJI and to write about Johnson. His own scholarship pushes and promotes literature into the realms of social and economic justice, breathing new life into both celebrated and forgotten texts.

For more on the James Weldon Johnson Institute at Emory University, please visit its website at:

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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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