Best of Australian Poems is an Annual Volume from Australian Poetry. Working closely with The CEO of AP, Jacinta Le Plastrier this annual compilation of a 100 best Australian poems is always intense and yet enjoyable. Last year there were some fantastic inclusions I enjoyed laying out (below). The style was established in the first volume, and we will continue with those size/typeface/layout specifications once again this year. The cover will continue to use the image of the eye as a metaphor for perception and observance—however its form and illustration will keep changing. This year the cover works both horizontally and vertically, as the poems are laid out in both orientations in the book.
The drawings are vector illustrations, and I largely took inspiration from the line-work in the earlier cover. A lot of these simply played with the idea of the line—as a sequence of text…and expressed these as a visual. Some ideas simply considered the repeated eye, and simply played with this, informed in some way by the previous ideas of repetition. It is never clear why a particular direction gets selected in the discussions with publishers and editors—the final cover reduces the idea to a single eye – represented by a multitude of lines. The colours very simply play with the idea of the yellow sun at the center of the indigenous Australian flag, rather than any other symbolic gesture.
This is a text-only book, so there is much joy in working with a typeface one really likes. I selected the typeface Arno to represent and deliver this series of publications. I find this to be one of the most beautiful, versatile, compact, and complete serif font families—and the italic forms are just beautiful—drawing calligraphic inspiration from the humanist types of the Italian Renaissance! Similar to but better in many ways to Adobe Jenson, which used to be an old favorite of mine for the design of poetry books, Arno is way more clear, and the negative forms are beautifully balanced. I especially love the small-caps number forms and have spent a fair amount of time using character styles to select and apply each of these individually.
The cover on the other hand is a play in terms of typeface use—it looks to the future, by using a variable concept font—Acumen—clearly, the direction of web-based typography! It also playfully includes a traditional typeface— Poetica in the ‘of’. This is both as emphasis, as we needed to differentiate this from the other Best Australian Poems, an annual volume from Black IncBooks and, as play. I smile here—a designer’s little secret fun element—as the typeface used is Poetica. :) Poetica has a delightful font family, with similar aesthetic values to Arno—its swash letterforms work from the restrained to the flashy! Almost all the typefaces for this publication are designed by Robert Slimbach, who clearly is a genius, and must be a very happy man! The only exception is the text for the year 2022 on the cover, and the inner half-title and title pages. These use the typeface Eloquent, designed by Jason Walcott.
Sadly, this book, like the last one is a POD publication, which means I have no say in the choice of paper for the inside, nor for the cover. I hold hope however that the popularising of this method of print delivery will ensure a wider access to material and aesthetic choices in the future.
To the left are some of the cover directions and ideas. To the right are this year’s cover and some inside pages, and last year’s cover.
Image: Spread from BoAP 2021: Microbius Tract(ion), Abbra Kotlarczyk / Debris Facility. Best of Australian Poems 2021
Image: screenshot of spread from BoAP 2022: 43, by Asiel Adán Sánchez