Friday, September 23, 2016

Mikaela Castledine - Of Size and Shape

Today, after the various cuttings and pasting I do - from Word where I jot down and rework, to Onenote where I catalogue and date, to Blogger where I post, I found my poem had changed font and size of its very own accord. It made me think about the way we present our poems on the blog.

I am married to a graphic designer (28 years tomorrow!) and some of the intricacies of type selection have necessarily rubbed off, but mostly I am after a clean non interfering font that lets the poem do its work. Back when the now ubiquitous computer didn't exist I would always laboriously type up my poems when I felt they were finished as I could erase all the chatter of my handwriting and let them stand clear of me. I have always found there is a finality to typesetting a poem which makes it harder to rework and at the beginning of this project I was concerned about typing and essentially publishing drafts in case they refused to be changed later.

On the blog I often look at Kit’s sometimes choice of sepia type and Beatrice’s French and English red and purpleish blue and wonder how I am being affected by their use of colour. Also Robbie V’s spacing in, for example ‘sugar dumbs down’ which feels quite deliberately stressful in its crowding. Lesley Boland’s enormous letters make me quite fearful of their monstrosity and sometime I don't want to read the poems as they look as though they will be strident and unsubtle - though when you read them you find they are not.

I am wondering if there is any conversation to be had about this important part of our poetry writing.



  1. I do think it's an important issue
    and from my point of view - as someone who's been involved in book design now for more decades than perhaps one should mention ... it does seem we're a bit cavalier and careless with it all
    ... and so a discussion about it is a good idea ...

    what I'm trying to do with colour is to assign something like a temperature / genre form

    but I haven't been careful or discriminating enough in doing so

  2. As some of you are aware, I have been trying to tidy up the notes on Contributors, to make them legible and fairly consistent. I wouldn't dare interfere with other people's poems, though. Also I think some of the variety there is attractive and interesting, e.g. Beatrice and Kit, whom you've mentioned.

    I wonder how many contributors are experienced with Blogger, and whether they create their posts on site or email them from their phones or something? Possibly not everyone knows how to manipulate Blogger for the results they would most desire.

    Also, though one can theoretically set a blog to a particular font and size, Blogger sometimes decides to do its own thing – as with your recent post. On my personal blogs, I find that Verdana 14pt gives the most readable result, to my taste, and doesn't alter that on me. At nearly 77 years old, I find that small font sizes annoy me, even though one can zoom to read. Mostly I find the 366 posts inoffensive, however.

    The other thing Blogger does a lot, inexplicably, is create a space before the final line of a poem. Both Anna and I mentioned this in the facebook chat a while back. I sometimes wonder if I should go in and fix that for people – but what if the poet intended it?