Nelson’s intro alone is worth the read:
There is a relationship (a love affair) that develops between a book designer and the text of the book she is designing. The experience of making a book, taking a writer’s raw text and turning it into an object, provides a closer reading than purchasing a book and reading it. A singular intimacy grows between the designer and the text, not just for the content but also the shape of the poems, the shape of the book/object itself, the reading of the end lines and line breaks, the decisions the author has made in terms of form and how that dictates design. Something close to a sense of ownership develops when a designer spends months reading, rereading, tweaking, and formatting someone else’s manuscripts into book form.
After spending several months designing Shelly Taylor’s first full-length book Black-Eyed Heifer for Tarpaulin Sky Press, I asked her to answer some of the questions that came up during the design process.
But Taylor’s responses are also as fab as her work:
When I write by hand, as was the case with most of these Heifer poems, everything is in prose. Writing is the most natural act to me; it’s entirely unconscious in free writing, when forming the poems, and often times even in revision. Voice is the deciding factor when breaking my poems into lines—the need to move out in a less constricted way. Voice implies line breaks—the breath is the most natural indicator—also the importance of having the end of the line read back into the beginning, making layered meanings throughout the poem. The regular downsweep of reading a poem textured by the rotating horizontal universe that also feeds meaning into the whole—density, double meaning, and texture. I think I got my way of understanding this from Robert Creeley whose work I love.
Let us just repeat that penultimate sentence: The regular downsweep of reading a poem textured by the rotating horizontal universe that also feeds meaning into the whole—density, double meaning, and texture.