Tuesday 12 May 2015

Tyrannosaurus Pathos

In some parallel universe where hip-hop took a decidely more science-fiction/physics/neurobiology-oriented turn than in our sad, grey history, Yann Rousselot's poetry collection Dawn of the Algorithm would be the lyrics booklet to the most exciting new album of the 21st Century.

From witty riffs on Hollywood SF to a genuinely beautiful and touching poem from the point of view of a sentient but gaseous Jovian lifeform, this collection is quite unlike anything else being published. Genre poetry may not be the most remunerative field, but if it was all as good as this it would easily be one of the most exciting.

The poems are also illustrated by a range of artists. Here, for example, is Brian J. Murphy's illustration for 'T-REX IS SAD :('.

Dawn is a crowdfunded book from the previously-unknown-to-me Inkshares, who seem to combine various aspects of Kickstarter, hired editing/design staff and self-publishing without the usual financial risks (books are only published when a certain number of pre-orders have been met). Reading about how it all works made me feel old.

Cover design for poetry books is a very interesting field. The tendency towards thematic or atmospheric imagery gives a freedom for designers that a book with a specific plot or set of characters might not, and the pressure from marketeers must surely be lower (nobody is publishing poetry expecting full-window promotions and huge face-out shelf displays in bookshop. On the other hand, poetry can make use of an image that a designer can literalise in a way that might be too on-the-nose or obvious for a novel (see Four-Legged Girl below, for example).

To show what I mean, here are some of my favourite covers for upcoming poetry books. I have no idea what most of these books will be like, but I'd be more than willing to give them a go based on their looks alone. Also, most poetry titles kick most prose titles into the gutter.


Drew said...

These covers are amazing. Do you know anything about the sculpture on the cover of Errata? On another note, have you ever presented anywhere like a Ted Talk?

JRSM said...

The sculpture (and I assume the photo) is the work of Eric Michael Wilson (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Eric-Michael-Wilson/299748300078756?fref=photo).

I can't imagine ever being asked to do a talk! Weirdly, though, my Dad did a TED talk in Canberra last year.

Drew said...

Oh, please post a link to your father's talk. What was it on? I think you could give a fascinating lecture just based on the worst and the best and your personal favorites. I see you as the next Edward Tufte or Chip Kidd.

tim b said...

Every single one of these really makes me want to read the book.