Good typeface for poetry...suggestions

Evie's picture

Hi Everyone,

Im looking to buy 2 new typefaces for this project i'm working on.
Its an 18 page pocket poetry book, eacht poem is set in 2 languages, one is English the other is French.

The period when the poems were originally written in was between 1914 and 1922. I was looking for a separate font for the titles and for the poem itself.

Preferably i'd like to go for a serif.

All tips...suggestions are more than welcome. i'd really appreciate all help lady's and gents.

Joshua Langman's picture

I'll start with my standard response to "what's a good font for a poem/resume/invitation/article?" — which is, "What's it about?"

Is there any unifying theme other than the date range? Who are the poems by? What kind of mood do you want to set? How long are the poems?

Mixing two serifs is a bit tricky. Must the titles use a different face? Must that face be a serif?

Evie's picture

Hi Joshua, thank you for replying,

The poems are written by James Joyce, its hard to pin down to a unifying theme, but i guess it all boils down to "life and death, emotion or the lack of emotion"

Poems are between 9 and 15 lines, and approximately 4-6 words on a line

I would like to have it a bit contemporary but with a bit of a twist (no Caslon...etc.

Mixing two serifs is not a must, at first i thought about giving the titles a different face, or maybe give the French translation of the poem a different face than the English version.

When the book is open, left page has the English version on it, right page has the French version so its important that they work nice next to each other.

It must not be a serif but for the french i'd prefer a serif. But i'm open for all suggestions

Hope this info helps a bit.

PabloImpallari's picture

Hi Carolina,
We are working on a Jan van Krimpen's Cancelleresca Bastarda revival

Currently we are at Beta27, you can download and test it:
http://www.impallari.com/projects/update/24
(Scroll down to the last comment).

hrant's picture

FWIW, according to Ladislas Mandel a smallish x-height leads to more authentic French text.

As Joshua says it's tricky to find two serif fonts that harmonize. So this is actually a good opportunity to plug one of mine! Nour&Patria, a "two-pronged" system with all its components in visual harmony:
http://granshan.org/works/2008/hrant.pdf
You could use Patria's Italic (or Roman) for the English and Nour's Latin subordinate for the French.
http://www.themicrofoundry.com/other/nour&patria/dev/patria-italic.gif
http://www.themicrofoundry.com/other/nour&patria/dev/nour-latin.gif

hhp

Nick Shinn's picture

General Typophile opinion (in past threads) on bilingual documents suggests that it is not a good idea to use different fonts for the different languages.

John Hudson's picture

Somewhat later than the period you describe, but strongly associated with the same high literary modernism, Faber & Faber made a lot of use of Perpetua. Consequently, it is a type that I associate with Joyce, Eliot, Pound, Jones, etc..

hrant's picture

Nick, I think a number of us have argued both sides - I don't remember noting any sort of consensus. And there is no more potent example of how stupid it can be to use the same font for multiple languages than Emil Ruder's "Typographie"; every typographer should study it to see what not to do.

hhp

johndberry's picture

Evie – The appropriate typeface will depend on the poems themselves. I wouldn't worry too much about the historical period (either of the poems or of the type) but I would give a lot of thought to what you'd want the poems to look like when you read them yourself. Any book design grows out the experience of being a book reader.

One typeface I've used a lot (and which is now available in OpenType format with an extended range) is Mark van Bronkhorst's MVB Verdigris. The italic is very distinctive and readable in its own right, and at large sizes can make an excellent title face. (Mark has recently released a new display version, in roman only, for large sizes; that would be another possible approach.) I've used the roman for several books. I don't think it would be inappropriate for Joyce, though that is a judgment call that you'll have to make for yourself.

Evie's picture

Thnx for replying everyone, some great suggestions here!

@PabloImpallari beautiful revival, i'm keeping my eye on this one.
@hrant love the faces but not what i had in mind for this project (no hard feelings i hope :-D)
@John i actually have Perpetua, purchased it a few years ago and have used it quite a bit so i'd like to buy something new...but it crossed my mind
@Johndberry...nice suggestioni'm actually considering getting this one

Was also considering Darden's Freight face

hrant's picture

Of course, no hard feelings! I did suspect you wanted something softer... :-)

BTW, please read the following before you go for Pablo's Cancelleresca Bastarda:
http://typophile.com/node/75894#comment-497220
Sorry Pablo, gotta do it (I mean me).

hhp

----

Today, learn about the Armenian Genocide.

J Weltin's picture

Today, learn about the Armenian Genocide.
What has Հայոց Ցեղասպանութիւն to do with Joyce’s poems?

hrant's picture

Probably nothing.
I append that "signature" to any message I send out on April 24.

Nice Armenian typing BTW. :-)

hhp

----

Today, learn about the Armenian Genocide.

J Weltin's picture

Was that date the beginning? (Sorry for being off-topic again.)

hrant's picture

Although the "informal" Hamidian massacres started in the late 19th century it was on April 24, 1915 that a formal order was issued and hundreds of Istanbul's most prominent Armenian leaders and intellectuals were either killed or imprisoned to be killed later on. That was done to remove our principal avenue of defense for what was to follow.

But something quite impressive (which first took place last year):
http://www.armenianweekly.com/2012/04/22/call-for-genocide-commemoration...

hhp

J Weltin's picture

Great news indeed.

PabloImpallari's picture

> Sorry Pablo, gotta do it (I mean me).
No problem :)

daverowland's picture

Depending on the poems my font Vulpa might be appropriate. Especially the italic. Or it might be too frilly for your liking.

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