“Why Poetry” & Conclusion

Although I wasn’t able to be there in person, watching Joe speak from the live stream was really cool. I liked being able to hear him read his poems for the second time; Joe seems like such a down-to-earth person who is truly passionate about poetry. I didn’t realize how connected he was to Eulalia Books so hearing that bit of backstory was interesting. One of the most important things I took away from his words was when he said, “voices come alive when they are heard” and that it is an “honest connection”. This really resonated with me, especially since on Ursuline campus right now, we are having trouble getting new voices into our own magazine Inscape. I feel like a lot of people don’t realize how powerful voices truly are and everyone has the right and deserves the right to speak up. Joe also mentioned how we must put the Humanities to work which is extremely vital not only on college campuses but in the business industry as a whole.

Even if you’re not a big fan of poetry, it is still playing an important role in literature and I think it has grown in popularity quite a bit. Joe told us that we must listen with the ear of our heart; I thought that this statement was beautiful. I think listening with your heart not only applies to poetry but to life in general. If we all simply listened to the chatter around us rather than starting arguments and controversies, we could get somewhere. I think the way Joe reads his poetry demands that we listen; a lot of poetry is read as if it were a novel rather than slowed down with pauses like its meant to be read.

I wish I would have been closer to Saint Vincent to be able to physically participate in the activities and the excursions but nonetheless, I feel like I learned things. I haven’t quite figured out what I want to do with my life, but I know I want to go into publishing because I love books. I don’t plan on being heavily involved in poetry as of right now but who knows? I think it was cool that this course was designed around poetry because I learned new skills to add to the ones I already have. As the editor-in-chief of my own schools’ magazine, I know how hard it is and how much time it takes to put a publication together. There is so much to consider outside of the physical magazine itself. Although it is a long and frustrating process at times, it is well worth the work. This course was fun, and I liked being able to do projects/posts on things I was interested in within the realm of literature.

Why Poetry? My Contribution

I’ve always had a passion for reading and writing and up until my sophomore year of college I finally realized…hey! Why not go into publishing? Or something along those lines. I love everything about the process: editing, proofreading, layout, design, etc. Being able to work on Why Poetry? is awesome and great experience. I found myself comfortable with the process because Ursuline College has its own literary magazine Inscape. I was an editor/contributor to the magazine last year and I am currently the editor-in-chief. It’s such a fun and rewarding experience!

For Why Poetry? the first task I had to do was proofread the entirety of the text. Luckily Joe’s writing was almost print ready to begin with so the process wasn’t as tedious. But proofreading can be extremely difficult at times, especially when the author would much rather write than edit their own work. I also had to pick several fonts that might look well for the copy; they influenced the final decision for the font choice. I don’t think many people realize just how important font is sometimes!

I decided that I wanted to utilize my design skills and create a bookmark to go with the poetry book.

Image of bookmark ©Haleigh Platt. Quote ©Joe O’Connor

The design inspiration was pulled from the cover art. I used orange and blue because they are a complementary color combination. I also thought it worked well with the imagery. I used one of my favorite quotes as a textual element with a handwriting style font. For the designing, I used Canva, an open sourced website that is one of the best resources for designing pretty much anything.

I am not a big fan of poetry but reading Joe’s poems makes me appreciate the form of writing more and hopefully I will read more in the future!

The Power of Small Presses

Screenshot of Black Ocean website ©Black Ocean

I think it’s cool to be learning about small press publishing companies because when I think of the word publishing, I tend to associate it with companies like Flatiron, HarperCollins, or Macmillian. I feel like small presses tend to be overlooked due to the number of books that are being pumped out by these bigger companies; it’s sad because smaller publishers produce such great work written by amazing authors. After reading several articles, I found that most of the presses were created simply out of the desire to do so, or they wanted to see certain types of writing published: “In many ways the most important push for us was realizing that no U.S. press was daring enough to publish my translations of Aase Berg, a major young Swedish woman poet who was writing these wild poems unlike anything that was being published in the U.S.” (Göransson). Johannes Göransson of Action books wanted to publish something very unique and the only way he could do that was by starting his press with Joyelle McSweeney to release the material he wanted to.

For many, it is a passion to deliver poetry to those who love to read and listen to it: “Janaka and I have always believed there was a hungry audience for poetry—even if they didn’t know what they were hungry for yet. And we’ve also believed that there is a larger audience for poetry than just poets alone, and we have been determined to find it…” (Adams). Community and poetry seem to go hand in hand most times, I feel like poetry has a large audience that all appreciate poetry: “In the lovely, beautiful world of poetry, community is ideal…Community has both an economic value and a social value…Community is often the most that we have. Community is a feeling. And I like to feel” (Carmody).

Although I am not a huge fan of poetry (as of right now) when I do read poetry or I am around others who love poetry, the dynamic feels so different, it feels like a family of people who are all coming together for the same purpose. The landscape of literature is huge, bigger than most of us think and it makes me wonder how much small presses can shine through it all. From the articles, the founders of these presses seem so passionate and driven to provide work that is exceptional and most times, writing most of us has never seen. There is something so intimate about small presses and they pride themselves on the work they release. Small presses might not be as popular as our larger publishing companies, but they have earned their rightful place in the literary world and they have just as much to give. Presses such as Action Books and Black Ocean want to make a statement, they have words they wish to share with the world and that’s beautiful.

Works Cited:

Carmody, Teresa. “On small press publishing” Jacket2, Jacket2, 25 Sep. 2013, https://jacket2.org/article/small-press-publishing.

Carter, Laura, and Carrie Adams. “An Interview with Black Ocean.” Jacket2, Jacket2, 22 Oct. 2015, jacket2.org/commentary/interview-action-books.

Carter, Laura, and Johannes Göransson. “An Interview with Action Books.” Jacket2, Jacket2, 8 Oct. 2015, https://jacket2.org/commentary/interview-black-ocean.

The Anisfield-Wolf Awards

2019 Winners ©Cleveland Foundation

For the past two years, I’ve had the pleasure of attending the Anisfield-Wolf Awards in downtown Cleveland. The Anisfield-Wolf Awards was established by Edith Anisfield Wolf in 1935 with a vision in mind: “The Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards recognize books that have made important contributions to our understanding of racism and our appreciation of the rich diversity of human cultures. For over 80 years, the distinguished books earning Anisfield-Wolf prizes have opened and challenged our minds.” This award ceremony has gained more national attention as it grew bigger and it’s an amazing experience. Some previous winners include Martin Luther King Jr, Toni Morrison, and Maxine Hong Kingston.

There’s something magical about being able to sit in front of authors who have worked so hard to accomplish what they’ve set out to do. Most times, I have never heard of the authors but watching them speak and learning about their work makes me gravitate towards their writing and makes me want to learn more. The idea of racism and diversity is so prevalent and important that this award ceremony is crucial and brings such joy into the community and most times, around the world. This year’s winners were Andrew Delbanco, Tommy Orange, Sonia Sanchez, and Tracy K. Smith. I enjoyed all of their speeches and most of them held so much emotion and gratitude. My favorite author, although I had no idea who she was prior to the event, was Sonia Sanchez. She’s not only a poet, but a performer and her poems are beautiful and meaningful. What I loved most about her was her passion for her craft and for advocating through it. She moved me in a way I wasn’t expecting, and I felt connected to her in a very strong way.

As a reader and a writer, this event is not only encouraging but also helpful. Going to the award ceremony gives me more inspiration and confidence to continue writing no matter what my writing is about. I’ve learned that advocating any issue through writing can be the most powerful and it brings people together in a way nothing else can. I felt connected to every single person in the room just by being there and I felt strengthened by being surrounded by people who have the same passions as me. Overall, the experience is amazing and feels almost surreal sometimes. It’s empowering to enter a building knowing I will be encircled by love, it’s a safe place where so many people of different walks of life come to celebrate the writing of amazing human beings.

Works Cited:

Anisfield-Wolf Awards, The Cleveland Foundation, http://www.anisfield-wolf.org/. Accessed 7 October, 2019.

Des Imagistes: An Anthology of Imagism

The journal I chose is called Des Imagistes, this particular journal was a yearly anthology published by The Glebe from the year 1914 until 1917. The anthology wanted to accomplish putting Imagism at the forefront of the writing industry, mainly through poetry. The first edition of the magazine was organized by Ezra Pound, an American poet who was a successful poetry figure of his time. As the title suggests, the use of poetic imagism will surely be evident throughout the poems within the anthology. Each issue has a variety of poets, many of whom have work throughout all of the issues published between its few years as a journal. There is no particular context in which the journal is written, rather, Des Imagistes is a tool for authors of different opinions, views, and backgrounds to showcase their work next to other great poets. The main concept in common with every piece is, of course, the imagism that these poets wished to invoke in their work. 

This journal doesn’t have much of a design, rather each poem is printed on its own page; the design isn’t needed because the poetry will speak for itself and we as readers can picture images in our heads of the poets’ words (hence imagism). I like how clean and simple this journal looks; today most journals love to focus on the visuals and designs, which of course is important, but letting the work speak on its own can be very powerful. The page that caught my attention is titled “In A Garden” by Amy Lowell. Her poem is short but well written and when I read it, I can picture what she describes, and it makes her poetry more beautiful and enticing. Her poem talks of a garden, but it is also very much about love: 

And I wished for night and you. I wanted to see you in the swimming pool, White shining in the silver-flecked water. While the moon rode over the garden, High in the arch of night, And the scent of the lilacs was heavy with stillness.

Lowell, Amy. “In A Garden.”

These closing lines are a perfect example of imagism, I can see a person swimming in a pool, the moon shining brilliantly, and I can see lilacs filling the garden. I love how we don’t get a sense of romance until the end, multi-themed poems are my favorite. Scanning through the whole journal, much of the work expresses nature in some way which should be expected. It is much easier to create an image from something that is so easily visualized. 

Works Cited:

Lowell, Amy. “In A Garden.” Des Imagistes, vol. 1, no. 5, Feb. 1917. The Modernist Journals Project, http://www.modjourn.org/index.html.

Poems on Life

“Poems of Life”, October 1, 2019. © Haleigh Platt

I would consider my object to be not only a book but also a visual book as well. Its main focus is on the poems as well as the design and overall look of the book itself. I think, especially in current times, the book as an object is very much overlooked because the words are ultimately what we wish to look at. I’m conflicted with that because as an art major, the way a book is formed, and it’s aesthetic is usually what attracts me to it long before I know what’s inside. But as a book lover, I find myself oftentimes passing over the book as an object to dive into the words. There is something truly amazing about referring to a book as an idea: “Engaging with the book as an idea brings its material form back into the conversation in ways that can be productive, exciting, perplexing, and at times problematic” (Borsuk 113). While reading Carrión’s ideas I found it interesting when he talked about writers having nothing to do with the actual book itself, rather their only contribution is the texts themselves. I’ve always subconsciously associated the whole book as the author’s work when in reality, only the words I’m reading are the authors.

I chose to create my book out of various papers (cardstock and scrapbook paper). For the poems themselves, I typed them and then printed them out to have a neat/cohesive look to my book. Loving to be creative, I was immediately drawn to the idea of creating this book completely by hand; I was in desperate need of getting away from the computer for a while. I think the materials I chose reflect my world in that as an artist with many creative hobbies, I had plenty of supplies to complete this project. I think that any reader would be more engaged with a book if it looks appealing and I think by making my book super colorful it fulfills that desire.

“Poems of Life”, October 1, 2019. © Haleigh Platt

The form I chose to use was an accordion-style book; I’ve always liked the way this particular form looks and many people have used this form in the past. I believe my form just adds to the history of a book as an object. I know my form isn’t fresh and unique but adding my style to it makes it distinctive. It’s important, even when using an old idea, to make it your own: “…he sought to return to an earlier idea of the book – one stepped in mystery, beauty, and visionary language that bears the marks of its creator’s hand” (Borsuk 118). My book object isn’t the first and definitely won’t be the last but it’s my own creation that I can be proud of and people who know me would see my style within it.

I had a lot of fun playing around with how I wanted my book to look. The font I chose for my poems is called Traveling Typewriter, I found this font for free online and I loved the way it looked. I figured using a typewriter type font was the way to go! I like sleek and clean designs so there wasn’t that much texture to my object, but I made sure there was a contrast between colors. For my content, I used ten of the most popular poems written about life to have a common theme throughout my project as a whole. Using life as my guide for my aesthetic choices I wanted to express the craziness of life in my color choices. One side of my book contains very bright colors that jump off the page, mixed with scrapbook paper that I thought had a very literary feel to it. On the other side, I used colors that were darker and muted to create a contrast between the two sides of the accordion. Although the poems range in specific messages, the colors signify the two sides of life, the good and the bad.

Works Cited

A Conscious Rethink. “10 Of The Best Poems About Life .” A Conscious Rethink, 13 Sept. 2019, http://www.aconsciousrethink.com/8971/poems-about-life/.

Borsuk, Amaranth. The Book. The MIT Press, 2018.

Carrion, Ulises. The New Art of Making Books. Aegean Editions, 2001.

The Zine

“Electra Heart Isn’t Dead”, September 22, 2019. © Haleigh Platt

I have never heard of zines but after doing some research and looking at different zines out there, it’s a really cool concept! The thing I love most about the zine is that the ideas are endless, it’s what the creator makes of it: “Whether the ultimate goal is to inform, to agitate, to smear or to celebrate, their contents are as raw as the cut-and-paste aesthetic that provided their defacto look, pre-Etsy” (Halliday). Presently, most forms of publication are going digital, but zines are very creative and have an authentic look to them.

Most of the zines I found looked similar to me but eventually one caught my attention and I chose to use it as inspiration. The zine I chose is called Superfly (issue 4). Not much information is provided with this zine, other than it was made in Ontario, Canada and the author goes by Tess. The zine appears to contain not only her own writing but also writing she recycled from other zines. It’s hard to grasp the overall theme of her writing, as it is very scattered and sometimes doesn’t make much sense but it’s artistic all the same. She talks about society and how it scares her sometimes, how women our viewed in our culture, and her own life experiences. Tess has a lot to say and she doesn’t hesitate to tell us what she feels, thinks, and lives through. Although this zine was a bit choppy and difficult to understand at times, it’s definitely unique and creative in its own way; it’s aesthetic pulled me in before the words did.

I think this zine is a good example of how commonplace a zine can be; it doesn’t have to be written by a world-renowned author but by an ordinary girl who has something she wants to share with others. I love how raw and real this zine felt, I could connect with Tess and her writing in a weird way. For my zine, I simply took the overall design of hers and created a choppy looking, black and white piece. I love music and am very much connected to it, so for my content I got my inspiration from a favorite artist of mine, Marina. I used her song concepts and some lyrics/song titles and made them my own. The drawing is an original based off of one of her album covers. Doing this project makes me want to create my own zine; there’s something relaxing about creating a project with paper and glue instead of a computer. After doing this project, I’ve realized that zines are a crucial part of the literary world and although are very creative by nature, they can be tools for advocacy and major issues that can’t be swept under the rug.

Works Cited

Halliday, Ayun. “Download 834 Radical Zines From a Revolutionary Online Archive: Globalization, Punk Music, the Industrial Prison Complex & More.” Open Culture, Apr. 2016, www.openculture.com/2016/04/download-834-radical-zines-from-a-new-online-archive.html.

Kahle, Brewster. Solidarity! Revolutionary Center and Radical Library, 14 Dec. 2011, www.archive.org/details/solidarityrevolutionarycenter?tab=about.

Smadden8. “Superfly #4.” Superfly #4, 21 Mar. 2012. Solidarity! Revolutionary Center and Radical Library, www.archive.org/details/Superfly4/page/n13.

Shaping Poetry with Font

Cocobiker font collage, September 16, 2019. © Haleigh Platt

I’ve always liked the way old letterpress type looks, but I’m drawn to modern type much more. The font I chose is Cocobiker, a variant of the Coco Gothic family created by Cosimo Lorenzo Pancini in 2015. Pancini is currently the art director at Studio Kmzero in Florence, Italy. He creates fonts for Zeta fonts, a font developing group: “It’s inspired by contemporary grotesque typefaces, with a runic mood, geometric proportions and ultraconnected geometry. A sans serif font dedicated to hipster culture and bike lovers…” (Zetafonts). I love geometric designs, so I found it made sense that this font stood out to me the most; it looks and feels very unique and fresh. Rupi Kaur’s poems are very emotional and very powerful, they’re beautiful but sometimes contain very tough subjects to talk about. I think that by using one of her poems with the Cocobiker font made it feel less heavy and although I have an emotional reaction to it, it’s easier to read when written in a fun typeface. I think the tone of the poem changes, when written in Times New Roman with black ink, the words are staring you in the face. With a newer font, the words still hold their meaning but it’s easier to swallow. I think also by using a variety of colors and weights that the words might convey even more meaning and adds a lighthearted note.

Works Cited

“CocoBiker Typeface.” Zetafonts, Zetafonts, www.zetafonts.com/cocobiker/overview. Accessed 16 Sept, 2019.

Kaur, Rupi. The Sun and Her Flowers. Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2017.

The Book as Object: Milk and Honey

milk and honey by Rupi Kaur. Photo credit: self photographed

            I’ve never thought to analyze a book as an object but when I view it in that way it means so much more. We as readers might not understand just how much creative thought goes into creating a physical book; it’s a form of art that isn’t always seen as such. When I view my poetry book as an object, I find myself being much more careful with it, holding it and opening it with care. Reading a book is usually about the words but we don’t often think about holding a book as an experience. Milk and honey by Rupi Kaur is the first poetry book to ever catch my eye, I’m not a big fan of poetry although I’m starting to take interest in it more.

There is something so enticing about black and white books; I find it hard to find them but when I do, I get excited. The cover screams read me, the title so vague yet interesting; little bees float on the cover waiting for a reader to open and enjoy. I find it interesting that her name is much smaller than the title/imagery, as if her words are so much more important than her name. The cover as well as the inside pages are smooth to the touch and feel nice under my fingertips. Like the cover, the pages are all black and white, separated by inverted pages that suggest what the section will contain. Although her font appears to be Times New Roman which is a basic font, it fits with her words and expresses them well. Hand drawn illustrations occupy half of the pages, adding a visual element to tie her poem together. This book is fairly small with a skinny spine and I think it’s misleading in that way; you expect this book to be just another poetry book on the shelf but it’s a small package with a huge impact.

Kaur’s words are some of the best amongst modern day poets. She has decided to share her personal experiences with the world, but I also feel that it’s meant to be read in a private manner. The codex remains shut and must be held open in order to read the pages. Milk and honey feels very sacred when I value it as something other than just words that resonate with me. The quote that I loved the most wasn’t directly from the reading rather a quote from someone else that was provided in the book: “What is a book? A book is an experience. … A book starts with an idea. And ends with a reader.” (Chen and Meador). I think this quote is perfect in describing what a book is; whether it be a book of poetry or a novel, books in general are powerful experiences for readers who love to immerse themselves into different world and frames of mind.

Works Cited:

“The Book as Object.” The Book, by Amaranth Borsuk, The MIT Press, 2018.

Meador, Clifton, and Julie Chen. How Books Work. Flying Fish Press, 2010.

Pressing On: Why We Need the Letterpress

Although I am very much a technology-oriented designer/creator, there is something so special and wonderful about creating something using physical materials whether that be a letterpress, a paint brush, or any medium. In a world where small press publishers might be undervalued, it’s important to stand out and create something that will have a lasting impression on others. The printed pieces I saw throughout Pressing On were some of the most beautiful and well thought out pieces I have ever seen as far as printing goes. Using a letterpress is a very tangible artform and is very satisfying to watch and I’m sure it’s so much more satisfying to work with. In the film, it’s mentioned that using a letterpress gives people the capability to combine many little things into something great.

Many people will believe that using a letterpress is a lost art, but I truly believe its legacy is far from over. All the men and women we see talking about the letterpress are so passionate about what they do and the knowledge they have is beyond what I expected. Previous generations know all things letterpress and they are excited to share the knowledge they have with younger people who want to learn, and I think that’s the biggest benefit. The prosperity of the letterpress is in the hands of younger generations now and we need older generations to guide us. I want to believe that no matter how much technology develops and flourishes, we will always find comfort and fascination falling back into older forms of art, like the letterpress. Creating something using my hands is more fun than staring at a computer screen all day. Small press poetry is the perfect place to keep letterpress alive, it would add another level of uniqueness and individuality to the pieces it produces.   

There isn’t as much flexibility and creativity that goes into a plate press. Once a plate press is created, details such as leading, tracking, kerning, all of those things can’t be altered on a plate. With a letterpress, everything can be tweaked depending on what the printer wants and there can be much more experimentation. Although the plate press is much faster and makes for an easier process, it takes away the fun of using a letterpress. Poetry is ever evolving and there is so much you can do creatively with a poem and using a letterpress makes the most sense in order to create exactly what you want.

I feel like determining whether something like the letterpress should be used or not is up to the individual. I personally think letting a letterpress sit around and collect dust isn’t doing it much justice. If I wanted to preserve it, I would create beautiful prints that could bring people joy and hopefully spark their own interest. There’s always the issue of someone who might not have much knowledge or experience using a letterpress in the wrong way and potentially damaging it but that shouldn’t stop experienced people from using one and teaching others how too. Heritage items can hold so much sentimental value and the thought of using something that means so much might not be the best idea; preservation often times means locking it away in a controlled environment or putting it on display. I think in terms of the letterpress, it’s heritage and history is what it creates and that’s something powerful that I hope never goes away.