A New Book Cover Design Celebrates New Poets
Since 2005, the Best New Poets anthology has recognized and encouraged emerging poets who have yet to publish a book-length collection of poetry. The concept of the series is relatively simple: each year, 50 outstanding poems are selected from an open internet competition by a respected guest editor. Previous guest editors include writers D.A. Powell, Claudia Emerson, Mark Strand, and current U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey.
Over the years, the Best New Poets visual identity hasn’t been as clear-cut as its process. As preparations began for the ninth edition of the anthology, it seemed that the brand was suffering from an identity crisis. The original concept of the series hadn’t wavered, but the look was inconsistent and undefined.
When Atomicdust stepped in to help, the challenges were formidable. When a cover needs to change from year to year, as is the case with an annual anthology, there’s a big risk of muddling the brand. It was important to create a template that would keep the series cohesive and recognizable – without looking like a template. Additionally, the cover needed to represent 50 distinct voices and writing styles without feeling like a confused hodgepodge of ideas.
Early ‘Best New Poets’ book cover design concepts
Several of the concepts created during the design process felt true to the spirit of Best New Poets: encouraging, energetic and authoritative (without taking themselves too seriously). But the final cover can be summed up in a simple phrase: “Out with the classics, in with the new.” The image strikes a nice balance of authority and subversion, with a dash of humor – Percy Bysshe Shelley looks a little perturbed behind that torn “NEW.” Handwritten type provides a friendly, personal vibe, and the bright, textured teal tear is perfectly incongruous with the visual associations most people have when they think of traditional poetry.
The final ‘Best New Poets’ 2013 book cover
Overall, the cover delivers a high-impact, unexpected look that will prepare readers for the fresh and surprising voices inside.
We look forward to sharing images of the final book when it’s released in November. Visit the Best New Poets site to learn more about the project (and perhaps pre-order a copy).
UPDATE: Atomicdust’s book cover design for Best New Poets was featured among the “Best Graphic Design of 2013” by the design blog From Up North.