THE FIRST SET OF PAGE PROOFS

The first set of page proofs for HAPPY LIFE arrived here via a FedEx truck on the afternoon of Friday, April 1st. I had to leave on a short poetry performance trip on Monday afternoon, which meant I had less than three days to get them back in the mail to Port Townsend. It’s like Duke Ellington said, the greatest boon to creativity is a deadline.

I set to work on them immediately Friday afternoon. What came in the package from Copper Canyon Press was David Caligiuri’s copy-edited manuscript and the first set of page proofs, meaning that for the first time I saw the book set in the type that was going to be used for the book and also how the poems would be laid out on the page. The font for this book is Minion for the body of the text and Woodland for display. Display is the term for headlines, titles and so forth; in this case for the titles of the poems.

Each page is still 8.5 by 11 inches, but it has little marks at the four corners showing the limits of the page top and bottom, left and right. The size for HAPPY LIFE will be 5.5 by 9 inches in order to make it consistent with the previous two books, MOMENT TO MOMENT: POEMS OF A MOUNTAIN RECLUSE and WHILE WE’VE STILL GOT FEET. The three books will make a matched set.

Page proofs give everyone involved a chance to compare the copy-edited manuscript to the actual layout of the book to see what the typesetters may have missed. There is almost always nothing—the typesetters are very good at what they do—but also almost always something. This time around there was in one poem a place where the typesetters had not hit the carriage return and two lines were run together as one.

And there was one place where I found a mistake no one else had caught. On p. 12: the last letter in Po Chu-I—sorry I can’t make the umlaut in Chu—is supposed to be lower case, as per David Caligiuri’s note on the copy-edited manuscript and as per elsewhere in the manuscript.  In other words: Po Chu-i not Po Chu-I.

Other than those two obvious errors, there was little else except in one poem, “Three Days in New York”—the longest poem in the book and the longest lined poem in the book also—a number of the lines were too wide for this particular design and they had to be run over and indented. I like to custom make my poems for the design of the book so that there are none of those too-wide line run-overs. It’s no great tragedy that this one poem will have run over lines, but it is something I like to avoid and I should have asked about it long before now when it is too late.

The only things missing now are the artist’s credits, the cataloguing in publication data for the acknowledgments page and the text and layout for the back cover.

In short, I went over the page proofs four times, carefully comparing the type-set proofs to the copy-edited manuscript, packed both page proofs and copy-edited manuscript up and had them back in the mail to Copper Canyon Press by Monday afternoon on my way to southern New Hampshire for a couple of days of poetry performances.