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Eric Ladner
07-05-2009, 05:07 PM
Years ago, in the Forum's Compuserve days, Kathleen offered some good suggestions on designing pages for poetry. I even saw a copy of a printout of that message recently, and now that I need it, I can't find it.

I'm actually working again on the same project that led to my inquiry then, getting it off the shelf and dusting it off. It's purely a labor of love (my late mother's poetry), and will probably be printed as only a few dozen copies for family and friends. For now, at least, I'm allowing myself the luxury of trying to make it look the way I want it to, rather than what a publishing budget might allow.

The poems range from sonnets, to villanelles, to multi-page free narrative, to haiku. [I found the haiku only recently, and haven't really decided how to handle them. They're so different from the rest that I'm thinking of emphasizing the difference, putting several on a page, in a narrower column than the rest of the book, so they're closer to the center of the page horizontally. Although it just occurred to me that each one alone in the center of a page might be interesting, too.]

I've pretty much stolen a page design from a book of poems that I particularly admire the look of. My problem is what to do about the occasional line or title that is too long for the text block, or, worse the entire poem that is too wide.

I know I don't want to use tracking to push or pull overruns. I've done a first pass in 12-point Arno Pro, but I've used InDesign's character and paragraph styles, so changing it is relatively straightforward. A narrower face, or a smaller size would fix most of the problems, but I like the way especially the shorter poems look.

Allowing two-line titles would be the simplest solution there, although I'm also considering letting title be wider than the rest of the page.

Since there's no question of all pages being the same length, I'm happy to fix a line or two that break to a new page by pushing a few more lines, or a whole stanza, if that suits the text best.

But those two or three poems that are just a little too wide for the page are a problem. A whole page with single-word lines doesn't look very nice.

So far as I can see the possibilities are:

Narrower or smaller type;
Change the width of all the pages;
Change the width of just the problem pages;
Force line breaks at places that give a less choppy look.

I apologize for rambling so, and I really don't expect point by point answers. Any suggestions anyone has will be quite welcome, though.

Many thanks!
Eric

ktinkel
07-05-2009, 06:22 PM
Any poetry that includes villanelles (one of my favorites when I tried to write poetry) is worth presenting nicely. IMHO, of course.

I just grabbed T.S. Eliot’s “The Complete Poems and Plays 1909 – 1950” because it is an attractive book containing a wild variety of writing.

There appears to be a minimum outside margin of 5p6. The poems generally appear to be centered on the page, so some have closer to a 12-pica outside margin. Lines that overrun are indented 2 picas. That’s it.

Regardless of the width of the poems, running heads (flush left) and folios (flush right), both set 5 to 6 picas from the trim line, define the page width, with the poems balanced beneath them.

That all makes good sense to me. Define the page space, start from the top, dangle short poems, break longer ones by the meaning (so ranging bottoms).

Type seems to be 12 on 13.

Maybe that helps.

Eric Ladner
07-05-2009, 06:42 PM
>>There appears to be a minimum outside margin of 5p6. poems generally appear to be centered on the page, so some have closer to a 12-pica outside margin. Lines that overrun are indented 2 picas.

>>Maybe that helps.

I think it will help a lot: start with a basic frame, but use a little judgement as to what the material requires; don't try to force it all into the same box.

A lot more work to do, but it's a lot of fun when I have time to concentrate on it.

Thanks, Kathleen.

terrie
07-05-2009, 07:48 PM
I think it sounds like a wonderful project. I hope that perhaps you might create a pdf (maybe 4-5 pages?) to show us the poems and what you come up with for the layout?

Terrie

Eric Ladner
07-05-2009, 09:09 PM
I think it sounds like a wonderful project. I hope that perhaps you might create a pdf (maybe 4-5 pages?) to show us the poems and what you come up with for the layout?

Terrie
What a great idea, Terrie. I will, even though I'm a little hesitant about displaying my efforts before the accumulated experience here. Maybe I'll do it as a work in progress, open to suggestions.

-Eric

ktinkel
07-06-2009, 08:34 AM
… start with a basic frame, but use a little judgement as to what the material requires; don't try to force it all into the same box.I think this kind of material works best sort of hanging from the top of the page — that is, the header defines the left and right boundaries, and the poems begin a set distance below that, and just dangle.

Not easy if there are short ones (like the haiku), but those can be grouped more than likely.

A lot more work to do, but it's a lot of fun when I have time to concentrate on it.Sounds like a fabulous project. I set a book of poems for an old friend, and I loved the kinds of problems it entailed.

As Terrie suggests, do hope you will let us see some samples when you get down to it.

terrie
07-06-2009, 03:55 PM
eric: Maybe I'll do it as a work in progress, open to suggestions.Great...can't wait to see what you come up with in terms of the design and I'm interested in the poetry too...

Terrie