I had no choice but to ask poetry editor of Harvard Review and poet, Major Jackson, for his covers after admiring his website (click his name): a veritable thing of beauty. Major hasn't disappointed; his covers are ones a graphic artist might choose, of blacks, blues, and whites in highest, starkest contrast. And they are lightly informed, like his website is, by a postwar, Blue Note aesthetic. Which means, when it comes down to it, that Major's covers suggest the possibility (among others) of the poetry volume as album, and hence the poetry cover as album cover, reminding us of the songs within.
"The appropriation of the African mask and other iconography in modernist art is well-known, but many African-American poets have also used African art to signal their political and cultural awareness, and aesthetic choices. Many of the books published by famed editor and poet Dudley Randall of Broadside Press in the 1960s and 1970s indicate a renewed pride during that time in Africa as cultural source and inspiration for African- American artists.
The people in Sonia Sanchez’s We A BaddDDD People are of course, black Americans but also diasporic and continental Africans alike. African-American poets continue to don black artists on their book jackets."
"I am a fan of simple design yet depth of meaning. My friend and co-worker at the Painted Bride Art Center, the poet Gil Ott, was a dedicated small-press publisher who adored and admired Harryette Mullen’s poetry. This is evident in his publication of her two collections S*PeRM**K*T and Muse & Drudge; the latter is a personal favorite.
It’s an amazing, innovative collection whose cover always reminds me of that Louis Armstrong song “What did I do to be so black and blue?” [begins at 42 seconds -pfp] But also, the cover makes an implicit connection between the poet and the blues singer, who is one of the personae contained in the collection."
Whew. So good. Thanks, Major.
Tune in Saturday morning after breakfast for our last post this week, with Mary Jo Bang.