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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Covering the Book - What Do You Think?

I'm tripping out on book covers, now that I'm paying attention to my own.
There's so much to it!
You want it to say hello to the world, to invite readers—to compel them—to pick up your book.
And buy it.
It has to reflect what's inside.
It has to tease.
And it has to look good.
Since I'm not a designer, it's perplexing to seek the path from my ideas
to the graphic execution that syncs up with my ideal.

Here's another twist: I don't need a book cover yet.
I just need a manuscript cover as I send my book out to publishers.
I need my manuscript cover to compel publishers to take a chance with my book,
to convey my seriousness and talent and the value of my art.

So about a week ago, I put out the word to a few designers and artists I know asking for their tries. Below are covers from three different people: Mark Bell, Ray Massie and I.

Please share your thoughts with me in the comments section or at Facebook.
 I'd like to know what grabs you.

Default working version

Word cloud version

Rotation type treatment

Graphic wheel version
(harkens to City Lights book covers)

Traffic sign

Pear version

Friday, February 21, 2014

The library with art by Marna Scooter Cascadia

The library

    for Marna Scooter Cascadia and John Fox

John and I ordered two slices
and a raspberry soda each.
We ate and took turns reciting
snips and strophes within easy reach,
chuckling, focusing or sighing

to fit the words, until our speech
joined together at Innisfree.
We chanted that secluded beach
into being. John beamishly
coaxed in Yeats’ cat, Minnaloushe,

who puzzled the moon, far and wee—
and so we came upon Cummings
hiccupping that typography
over our paper plates and crumbs.
We stood up. It was time to teach

of what had passed and what would come,
how poems make a honeycomb.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Book Cover Design Muster Call!


Create a compelling, attractive cover for the manuscript One Way to Ask.

Tough to admit, but I am not a designer. I have the desire, but not the chops. But you? You’re a designer. You've got the talent and the skillz. That's right—with a z. If you've also got the interest and bandwidth, you could gain a copy of the book and a donation of $25 in your name to the recipient of your choice.

Turnaround: FAST.
Immediately: email me at efflux at to let me know you’re in. I’ll send you the copy and (if you’d like) the covers I’ve tried so far. I want to moderate how many entries there are. There shouldn’t be many, and I'd be thrilled with just one—just YOU.

Submit your design by Feb 27.

If chosen, your design will be used on the manuscript version of the book that I will submit to City Lights Publishing and possibly other presses. Your design may or may not be used on the book when it goes into print. At this point, it is impossible to say for sure. 

Either way, if you participate at this stage, you will be credited in the book and get a copy when published. If I use your design, and if you wish, I'll also donate $25 to a non-profit or charitable organization of your choice.

General Considerations:
Because this is fast turn, low pay, and for manuscript only (for now), don't spend a huge amount of time. Just use your graphic skillz to do something cooler than I could. Designs will be judged on readability, allure, completeness of information, and my wife Lauren's opinion. The final decision of the judges should not be taken personally :)
Creative Considerations:
+ Black and white
+ Copy needs to includes One Way to Ask (could be set as all lowercase or all uppercase) “poems by Daniel Ari, art by”...  and the list of 58 artists. These could be in any order or arrangement. Linear, aligned, alphabetical—these are not necessary. Bonus points if you can give different weights to different names so that the most prominent artist pop—without seeming too “undemocratic.”

Not Mandatories:
+I feel like design should be text based. Maybe abstracted graphic elements… I can’t imagine photo-real images working, but I could be surprised.
+I like the superimposition of the letter Q and a ? as a logo, but am not married to the idea.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Road Not Taken — Two Versions — art by Chuckie Alston

The process of poetry happens as I walk to the carpool stop, as a move between meetings at work (and sometimes in the meetings), as I make coffee in the morning and as I shampoo my sparse crop at night. How do I help words unleash their power under poetic reading? Which words do I choose? When do I speak in plain details, when do I ask my readers to make intuitive leaps, when do I swirl into an abstraction of rainbow oil slick?

Search me.

With Chuckie Alston's wonderful illustration are two versions of the same poem, "Road Not Taken," written, you've probably already surmised, with a nod to Robert Frost. Which version do you prefer and why? I would love to have your input. I know which one I'm leaning toward, and I wonder if you'll lean the same way. Many lines are the same between versions, but the endings are toned quite differently.

I'd sure appreciate a quick comment about your preference, either in the comments section below or on the Facebook post the brought you here. Especially if you don't know anything about poetry.



"Road Not Taken"

I found myself once in a frosty wood
well equipped for the adventure but stopped
where the trail split north and south. There I stood
looking up one path, then its opposite,
sucking my canteen and wishing I could

explore both unknown opportunities.
Calling out overhead, a raven passed.
Was north versus south the only shopping
available? I laughed—and headed west,
easing through pristine forest. It felt good

to leave the trail (and leave no trace), and it’s
been many years since the day I diverged.
So now I’m at home. My young child has just
gone down, leaving me to my craft of words,
a golden practice that earns some copper.

I’ve grown glad to consider myself weird.
Strange trajectories rarely find me scared.



"Road Not Taken"

I found myself once in a frosty wood
well equipped for the adventure but stopped
where the trail forked north and south. I stood there
looking up one path and its opposite,
sucking my canteen, thinking how I could

coordinate the opportunities.
Calling out overhead, a raven passed.
The wear of the trail had cramped my shopping—
instead, I followed her flight, climbing west
through pristine forest. The hood of the sky

drew down over me and my choices.
forward years from the day when I diverged,
and I’m at home. My toddler daughter just
went down, leaving me to my craft of words,
a golden practice that earns some copper.

I’ve grown glad to consider myself weird.
She pads to the study and squeaks, "I'm scared."


Which do you prefer?

Friday, February 7, 2014

Hold that time with art by Shraya Rajbhandary

Hold that time

While, the movie’s a slog to me,
if my seven-year-old daughter
were a U.S. year, she would be
1947. Summer.
“Meet me in St. Louis, Louis…”

She is transported on Garland’s
Technicolor eyes to a time
cradled tenderly in the arms
of a later time. They used film
as a salve and an opiate.

Maybe she won’t find out how glum
Judy became. The plot’s struggles,
in retrospect, are quick to dim.
When we watch the “Making of…” reel,
it opens with clips of bombers.

Instead we steer on Google to
The Fair and Liza Minnelli.
Judy Garland by Shraya Rajbhandary