Poetry Book update

In the months since my last report on my “Poetry Book” project, I’ve made substantial progress, but much remains to do, I have a few questions for my readers, and I’ll want test-readers soon.


First, I have a number of illustrations now. I’m aiming for at least one illustration (counting “artistic spacer”-type drawings as illustrations) per poem, since having illustrations can make some of the problems of laying out poems that don’t all have titles somewhat easier. However, I’m not yet half-way to that point, and searching for suitable images is slow going.

I found a command to make the maximum vertical size of an image be the remaining space on a page, but no more. This is far better than the manual tweaking of sizes and placements I had before.

Second, I got my script to generate \LaTeX for the poems from Markdown originals to work. I use some nominally-non-printing characters to designate where I want the incipit to begin and end, the script presumes my standard header (title and author) and footer (link to where it was posted on this blog, for comments, and back to the main index), and there are two problems I couldn’t avoid “solving” with special-case logic. But with those caveats, I consider the problem solved. And I eventually figured out how to make the build script run my script to generate the \LaTeX before trying to use it in building the book PDF.

Third, I wrote a script to produce EPUB, and thence Kindle, format ebooks. The formatting is fairly bad, but I should be able to make the first fairly significant improvements without too much difficulty—the script produces Markdown and uses pandoc to generate an EPUB from that, and tweaking it to produce HTML instead shouldn’t be too hard. The hardest problem I had to solve in writing the script, I think, was getting the order of poems and images from the \LaTeX source, so the EPUB doesn’t get out of sync if I decide to change the order or as I add images.

Fourth, I contributed the beginning of a patch (now included upstream) for poetrytex to allow the incipit in the table of poems to be different from the line in the poem itself. I only need to use this in one place, but the way poetrytex works it’s so generally useful that my compatibility package calls it whenever the poem has an incipit. Unfortunately, the equivalent in poemscol adds the line to the table of poems every time it is called.


Now, my questions for you, readers.

First, about the dedication. I have particular people in mind, but I’ve dedicated the book to them in terms of their categories (“to the … who … this book is …”). I’ve sometimes thought that I ought to name them individually on the dedication page, but I’m of two minds. So what do you think? Should I name the dedicatees on the dedication page, in the Acknowledgements section, or only in private communications?

Second, as I’ve said before, a single volume of 57 poems now seems a bit short given the rate at which I have (or had) been writing poetry. Should I leave it as-is, include more, or turn the project into a series of perhaps-smaller volumes? And if that last, should they cover a fraction of a year each or several years in total?

And third, as I said a couple of weeks ago, I’m planning on promoting the book with a blog giving a poem a week. Do you have any favorite poems I should try to make sure to include? (See that post for details on what I can include.)

How You Can Help

There are several ways you can help me with this project, if you like.

  • I will soon need “test readers” to help me revise the prose sections of the book (such as the preface) and to polish the poetry.
  • I will also need “test readers” of a different sort to help me diagnose and fix rendering glitches with the e-book formats on various e-book readers at various font sizes.
  • If you find any public-domain black-and-white images that have something to do with the subject of one of the poems in the collection, I might be able to use them as illustrations.
  • And, as I mentioned above, I need ideas for poems to put on the “A Year in Verse” blog.

Do you have any thoughts?


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