Poetic power – poetry publishing parameters

What is the role of poetry, what use is poetry, does anyone read poetry? There’s always a debate in the literary sections of newspapers and websites about poetry. It incites a conversation, splits the nation, causes contemplation. 

At Into Print we debate the most appropriate book format, fonts, paper and images to present poets’ work in the best possible way when poetry publishing in print. It’s a similar challenge to working with fiction but with the extra parameters and strictures that poetry can impose on writer and page designer.

There’s a lot of poetic activity: performance poetry, small presses creating minor publishing hits, poets collaborating with musicians, festivals celebrating past poets, theatre groups dramatising their lives. Mainstream media has no problems with poets like Tempest, Cooper-Clarke, Armitage and Zephaniah. Their work is on school reading lists, they make TV documentaries and their opinions are sought on topics of the day.

Poetry publishing for all

There’s also a huge output of poetry from contemporary authors on blogs and in print. Three poets to appear in print recently with the help of Into Print are Matthew Ansell, Steen Andersen and Barry Williams.

Ansell recently released his book Uncovering Autism: A Book of Poetry to express to people what it is like to have the condition. Andersen is a Danish author who writes poetry in Danish and English. Dream Passages takes the reader to a dreamy, half-remembered, faded but familiar world. Irish author Williams rhymes about his personal relationship with work, sport, politics and people close to him in his A Book of Poetry.

Reading the poems of these authors leaves no doubt that poetry has the power to enlighten and entertain. Entertained, one feels open to enlightenment and, once enlightened, inclined to try to make things better. Powerful stuff.

At Into Print, we analyse a poetry manuscript to make suggestions about format, font size and leading – for example selecting a page width to accommodate all, or most, lines without breaking them, thus enhancing the reading experience.

In a recent interview with The Basingstoke Gazette Matthew Ansell said “I hope by putting these thoughts on paper it may help someone who is in a similar situation to I was, and give them peace of mind that they aren’t the odd one.”
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