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Re: [BKARTS] Designing poetry books-


I believe almost all of your assertions are flawed and wrong.

 > Here are some things I gleaned:
 > 1. Linda Mullin, Illustrator * Author * Publisher .... She
 > designed and illustrated a very nice "popular" type poetry book
 > recently. I met her at an antiquarian book show in Vancouver Canada
 > and visited her this last year. She is largely an illustrator.
 > ... I can't remember the title though. What
 > makes the book special is the illustrations.

That last sentence speaks volumes! Nice drawings, forgot the title of
this book you admire! Maybe the poems were just not very memorable.
That's not an encouraging thought.

 > 2. I think a poetry book needs illustrations.

Why? The example of Mullin's work isn't enough to support this assertion.

 > 3. The primary thing behind white space is that endless text is
 > boring to people.

Not everyone would agree with you. Tschichold, for example, just to
start the list. Others, too.

 > A normal amount of white space between lines of
 > text and margins looks balanced,

Ah, what's that word 'normal' doing in there? What is a 'normal amount'
of white space?

 > ... and this depends of the text. Poetry
 > books have much more white space than novels because of the variable
 > line lengths.
 > 4. White space beyond what is normally required is a waste of paper.

Whew! That's a sweeping statement, and it resonates with the sound of
horror vacuii and the graphic equivalent of Victorian knick-knacks
cluttering up the drawing room. [drawing = illustrations, get it!]  :-0

 > It is used as a cheap alternative to having illustrations.

But why the illustrations, anyway? Actually, you're also asserting that
illustrations are filler to cover up the white paper that the author
didn't write enough words to cover.

 > 5. Illustrations provide symbols to help the mind identify each poem.

Illustrations provide *the artist's or designer's* symbols. The poet's
symbols are already there, in the words. (The exception of William Blake
is noted for the record.)

 > 6. Illustrations could even be clipart. The very popular book "What
 > Color Is Your Parachute" appears to use old non copyright engravings.

Whoa! How contemporary can old public-domain engravings be? Dover Books,
watch out, the Poetry Patrol is looking for a few good cuts.

 > 7. Even simple graphic symbols and shading help to make each poem
 > look different.

The poems will look different because of the appearance of their words.
Poems are made to be read, silently or aloud, not to be decorated with
someone else's images.

 > 8. Poetry is not as popular as it used to be and so innovative
 > methods have to be found to increase it's readability and popularity.

Capitulating to the same sense of self-defeat to which education has
succumbed: Make it fun! It's boring without illustrations! Kid's learn
math if you have Sonic the Hedgehog or Pokemon sneak it into their
awareness. Poems are so dull, we need to jazz them up with clip art and

 > 9. Be bold and use new techniques to make your book stand out.

This exhortation doesn't sound like you mean for the designer to use
old, noncopyrighted linecuts.

 > 10. Think about using a non serif font like Arial or Helvetica.
 > Apparently such fonts are the standard in Europe. New research
 > indicates that it is actually easier to read than serif fonts, even
 > thought North American hearsay says that serif fonts are easier to
 > read. A non serif font like Tahoma actually has about 30% greater
 > font area than the same size in Times and takes up marginally more
 > page area.

Serif? Sans serif? This is a spurious standard. And, if you're going to
endorse any sans serif, Helvetica (or its lame look-alike, Arial) isn't
the one. It (along with Univers) was quite popular in the 60s and 70s
during the rage for the 'Swiss" look.

If you gotta go sans, try Frutiger (or its look-alike, Myriad).
Poppl-Laudatio? Even Optima, which is far too langorous, I'd think, but
that's a call to make with the text in front of you. There are some
contemporary designs that are hybrids of serif and sans, such as Libre.

Michael Brady

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