Thursday, July 12, 2012
The increased aesthetic appeal of poetry book covers
Crowded fields of literature and pervasive visual stimulants in our culture have placed greater demands on publishers to produce aesthetically appealing book cover illustrations. Accordingly, over the last 25 years, the book designs and cover illustrations of African American volumes of poetry have become quite notable, especially in comparison to poetry volumes by black poets published 30 and 40 years ago.
These days, volumes of poetry by poets include compelling artwork and photographs by professional artists. The covers are designed to draw audiences well before reading. The publishers are hoping that readers will at least in part judge the books by their covers.
Given the beauty of African American volumes of poetry, it's unfortunate that relatively few people encounter the works. The students who enroll in my literature courses have little knowledge of contemporary poets and are unlikely to have purchased any volumes. So many of them take note of the covers when I bring in volumes for them to browse.
• The Mis-Education of the Negro [Book Covers]
• The Collected Works (Readers) of Black Scholars