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Cover comment.

In the September-October 2004 Black Issues Book Review, both the Editor in Chief William E. Cox and the Executive Editor Angela P. Dodson expressed concern about the predominance of urban lit, hip-hop lit and erotica over "black literature." And yet, look at the cover for that issue, which featured India.Arie. I love India.Arie, and I think she's a wonderful, inspirational recording artist, but she's just that--she's a recording artist--she hasn't written a book. In fact, in that same issue, BIBR passed over Farai Chideya, Zane, Colin Channer and Cornel West--each of whom have actually influenced black fiction or nonfiction--to put Ms. Arie on the cover. It is no wonder young upstarts read "hip-hop" lit--even our premiere magazine for books bows down to hip-hop and Hollywood when it comes to covers and cover stories.

Recording artists and performers have plenty of magazines for which they can be featured on the cover; writers don't. Every time you dedicate your cover to a musician or actor (which is about half the time, by my count), you send a message to young, would-be black novelists and short story writers that even a magazine dedicated to black books reveres its recording artists more than its writers. The message you send to Black America is that we don't have enough writers to put on the cover of a magazine about books--we have to glean from a greater pool of actors, musicians and celebrities.

That said, I love Black Issues Book Review; the articles and reviews are always sharp, insightful and revealing, and BIBR's importance in filling a huge publishing void cannot he overstated. And yet, I want to see the greatness expressed within BIBR's pages foreshadowed on its covers, where our literary heroes and rising young wordsmiths should dominate.

ZZ Packer, author of Drinking Coffee Elsewhere

Editors' Note: We value all the opinions of our readers and welcome other comments.
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Title Annotation:letter to the editor
Author:Packer, Z.Z.
Publication:Black Issues Book Review
Article Type:Letter to the Editor
Date:Jan 1, 2005
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