Here is the cover to M. Sakran’s new book (currently available for pre-order), Understanding: poems with explanations:
Understanding: poems with explanations is a soon to be self-published collection of twenty original poems with explanations of each of them.
Readers may be wondering about the cover – Where did it come from? Why was it chosen? Does it have any meaning? And so forth.
The poems in the book, Understanding: poems with explanations, are obviously explained in the book. The cover, however, is not. Here, therefore, is some explanation of the cover.
When trying to decide the cover for a book (a notably important decision), there are a lot of different options. A person could pay for one or do it themselves. A person could go the route of artwork or photography or just text or some combination. There are decisions about colors and fonts and spacing and so forth. It can be a lot.
The cover for this book is a computer altered photograph. Generally, the computer alteration, made the colors brighter and fuller. On top of that, text was added.
The photograph for the cover is of part of a citrus tree. Although the fruits may look like limes, they are actually unripe oranges.
Originally, the idea for the cover was to take an up close photograph of an insect or a flower and computer alter it. There have been examples of this type of photography (not computer altered) on the blog and on MSakran.com and they generally look nice.
It was proving difficult though to find something acceptable for the cover. The cover would be a lasting thing and needed to be something special and fit in some way. In the process of searching for an appropriate photograph, a lot of time was spent around a certain citrus tree. This lead to the idea of, why not photograph the tree?
Many photographs of the tree were taken and the one selected seemed the best. It had a combination of multiple fruits and full leaves. After the improved effect of the computer alteration, it seemed to be the right choice. It was bright, full, and stood out.
White text was chosen (in M. Sakran’s preferred font) to provide contrast.
In a certain way, the cover was arrived at simply. It was a nice computer altered photograph. In examining it after the fact though, there is a lot behind it.
Readers of the blog will know that citrus has been a recurring feature on the blog. There are quite a few posts that reference citrus and there was even a citrus series on the blog. The main reason for this is that M. Sakran currently has access to five citrus trees (one of which is very large). Often these trees have interesting things on them and they make for good photographs and artwork subjects. Additionally, citrus trees and things about them can lend themselves to certain poetic ideas.
Although trying to reflect something from the blog was not at the forefront of the decision to use this cover, it does turn out that it helps tie the book and blog together.
As defined by M. Sakran, because of the computer alteration, this cover is artwork. Despite that though, many make look at it as a photograph and ask, “Why wasn’t a less photography based artwork (like charcoal or colored pencil or a water color artwork) used for the cover?” Some may feel that a different type of artwork cover might fit a book with poetry better. There were actually a few reasons for this.
One was the idea of standing out. There was the thought to have a cover that would be different from other books that contain poetry. Hopefully this bright green cover achieved that.
Another point, was the fact, that artwork sometimes has a hit or miss quality. Some people really like an artwork, whereas others may not get it. A photograph of a plant somewhat avoids this problem. Not everyone will like a photograph of a citrus tree, but it shouldn’t confuse anyone.
Another idea, and one that M. Sakran is hesitant to admit, is that sometimes M. Sakran’s artworks can be hit or miss. Not every artwork M. Sakran has created has come out amazingly (although quite a few on the blog and website, have been, in M. Sakran’s opinion, very nice). Sometimes, some people, may not like them. To help avoid this problem, an artistically altered photograph was used instead of artwork of another medium.
Some may wonder why a self-made cover was used as opposed to a paid for one. The considerations for this were generally practical. A good cover can cost quite a bit of money. It was just not something M. Sakran could spend. Also, there was the idea of copyright issues. Although this can be discussed when a cover is purchased, these issues can generally be avoided when the cover is self-made. Another practical issue was the idea of communication. Seeing a cover in your head is one thing. Communicating that to another person is another. This was avoided with a self-made cover.
Some good questions to ask about the cover are, “How does the cover relate to the overall idea of the book?” “How does the cover relate to the title of the book?” “Does the cover relate to any specific parts of the book?”
In looking for a good subject for the cover, there was the idea of having it relate, somehow, to the idea of understanding. That is part of the title and idea of the book and seemed something important to reflect. The idea of understanding though, is a broad one, and it basically manifested itself as a search for something that seemed significant in some way (like an up close photograph of an insect might). Upon reflection, it can be seen that this cover does reflect the idea of the book well.
The book is about explaining something (poetry) that might at first pass be somewhat mystifying. This cover in some ways reflects that idea.
First, as mentioned, these fruits are oranges. In the cover though, they don’t look like ripe oranges. They either look like limes or like unripe citrus fruits (which they are). This idea is a lot like the book. At first pass, a poem in the book might seem to be about a certain thing or reflect a certain emotion. The reality (as explained in the poem’s explanation) can be different though.
In another sense, this cover depicts something that is unripe. This “unripe-ness” can be seen to parallel the idea of the book. These fruit aren’t “finished” in some way. The poems in the book, aren’t in some sense finished, until they are explained.
These fruit have a mystery. What are they? What are they going to be? This mystery reflects the mystery of what the poems in the book really mean before they are explained.
In another sense, these fruits have something inside. There is the outer peal that gives the appearance, but there is something hidden within. This idea is a lot like the poems in the book. The poems have a certain feel and ideas when read, but in addition to that, there is a meaning in them that is revealed in the explanations.
As a note, the cover to the book is not reflected in any particular poem in the book (and vice versa). The idea was to have the cover give a universal representation of what was inside.
Hopefully readers of this blog, and future readers of the book, like this cover. There was some thought to it, and hopefully, after reading this explanation of it, it will be even more appreciated. If you would like to let M. Sakran know what you think of the cover, use the form on the contact page.