The Mountain Poems of Stonehouse, translation and commentary by Red Pine published by Copper Canyon Press.
Thinking of Eric Gill, and his background as a stonecutter, I set the book title with Gill’s beautiful Perpetua Titling capitals. I fell in love with the shapes of the letters, I admit.
Then, we found the image of the man in his simple hut, in the midst of dragon-shape pine trees. After acquiring the image rights, we learned that this scene was a detail from the familiar painting, “The Thatched Hut of Dreaming an Immortal” by Tang Yin (late 16th C), the wide painting depicts a man hovering in space at the left side. The Immortal hovers just beyond the book cover too.
The interior design balances the vertical lines of Chinese and the dense commentary on the verso pages with the poem number and translation on the recto page. All along, we wanted to keep the attention on the poems, with no more than 2 poem per spread.
I selected Minion for the text, as the sections of commentary can be long and we had limited space. Minion is slightly condensed so fits more words on the page than Bembo (another face I considered). Why not Perpetua for the text? Aside from the problem of fitting commentary, I don’t use Perpetua anymore for text because it falls apart when printed POD, and even though this book was printed on web press (at McNaughton and Gunn), you never know how the text may be printed in future.
Multilingual books are always full of puzzles to solve. In this case the poems contain some archaic characters, so we relied on a compositor in Taiwan to compose the Chinese. Delivered as a PDF, each page contained several poems. I placed the PDF and cropped out the other poems. Midway through, the Chinese compositor changed the spacing and organization of the source pdf changed. Aargh! I had to relink and check and recrop all those text boxes. What are blogs for if not for complaining, right?
I’ll end with one of my favorite poems from this collection:
To buy a copy of the book, buy direct from Copper Canyon Press, or browse your local bookseller.