Renga : 100 Poems ~ John Kinsella & Paul Kane

Design, Typesetting, Cover, GloriaSMH Press

John Kinsella and Paul Kane’s book for GloriaSMH is a collection of poems in the Japanese tradition of renga. They offer us a hundred poems in one continuing dialogue, rooted deeply in nature and place.  This ‘earthspeak’ ossillates between ‘Poughkeepsie and Jam Tree Gully; an extinct volcano’, Between rural and urban settings embellished like in a story-cloth with flora and fauna of place. Chris Wallace Crabbe, (my utterly favourite Australian poet!) describes it as a ‘pastoral eclogue, which feigned to be a rhythmical dialogue between two shepherds’.  He goes on to say: “There was room in this classical tradition for sophisticated banter between such a pair, however muddy their sandals. Now, John has elected to use varied lyrical forms, while Paul has adhered happily to the syllabic renga. Their range of mutuality is a delight”.

Type can be used to convey a range of things—yet none of these have consensus. Given that the two voices could well be represented by the same font, the conversational style of renga may be compromised. So I first tried to use the roman and italic versions as the 2 voices. Initially I think this worked well – but the italic has become a metaphor for emphasis—especially when in contrast with a roman typeface – so I decided to try two similar serifed fonts. I sent the 3 options to the poets – but unsure of how any judgement might be made- I relied on the idea that when asked to make a choice people just choose. The choice of a serifed font was simple given the traditional nature of the content and the general feeling around the publications of GloriaSMH press.

So the choice of the Mark Fox Painting for the cover by the poets, made the design quite simple – there is not much that it allows – however the image had too many colours that I felt did not work with the book – so I used a desaturated version and a smaller palette keeping the strong title in Exodus font. (Title Font: Exodus / By Andrew Herndon / Multidisciplinary Designer & Artist)

The font is then repeated n the footers along with a poet surname on each relevant page. The poets want to initial each title – I am not sure if this is really needed but sense a letting go and it not being of such importance – So the attribution on each page is now three-fold, initials on title, Surname in footer and font for each poet. —extract from reflective design diary

Cover Trials

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