Discover more from Altar for the Hunted Things
05.10.21: Murmuration Released Today
A closer look at my brand new collection, Murmuration, released worldwide today.
Today is officially the release date of my newest collection, Murmuration, so I thought I’d mark the day by sharing some more details about the book. I’m aware that some of you will have already received it by the time this hits your inbox, and I’m really looking forward to hearing what you think.
Murmuration wouldn’t exist without your support, and as always, this book belongs to you.
The word ‘murmuration’ refers to a large group of birds (usually starlings), that fly together and change direction as one. The effect of a murmuration is visually stunning, and the resulting shapes can be interpreted in such a way that everyone sees something slightly different.
In my home town of Brighton, England, murmurations of starlings can be regularly seen over the ruins of an old pier, and it looks like this:
I often sit and watch these starlings while I write, and it seemed fitting to name the book after something that has such a personal resonance. The opening poem of the book reflects on this view:
the sea breaks around my feet
before moving out again like an inhaled breath.
above the water, a mass of starlings
twist and collapse in on themselves
before bursting out
in an explosion of tiny bones.
i watch the birds beyond the iron carrion
and by now the water is below my knees.
I look down and wonder
if any amount of salt
could drown the monsters in my blood.
I view the book as a murmuration - each poem a starling above the water. What you see in the resulting mass is up to you. Whether this is a book about loss, heartbreak or hope is entirely down to how you interpret the birds as a whole, and perhaps the pattern you see is a reflection of yourself.
Whereas most authors let the publisher create the cover, I knew I wanted to design the front and back of the book myself. As an artist and graphic designer, the visual impact of my work has always been extremely important to me, and I began working on the cover design as soon as I’d decided on the title.
I worked on a few variations of the cover while the book was being edited, and an early sketch stuck with me from the moment it was created:
This idea of littering the cover with birds, particularly on a green background (chosen to reflect both the natural world and the sea over which the birds fly) just felt right to me, and it quickly became the main concept for the cover.
I chose Brandon Grotesque as the font for the cover, as I loved the boldness of the typeface and the sharp edges on letters like A, M and N. I chose to break up the word Murmuration, in part because it fills the space better, but also to reflect this idea of each individual element being more meaningful when it’s part of a whole.
Murmuration is printed on 70lb white offset paper, with a 141lb cover. The cover has a nylon gloss film lamination with a spot matte varnish, which was entirely my amazing publisher’s idea. The effect is that the birds reflect the light individually, giving the book a beautiful finish whilst remaining tactile and nice to hold.
Inside, there are both black and white pages, allowing me to create more of an impact with certain poems:
For the poems themselves, I use Questa, which has a retro and yet comfortable feel to it. There’s a formality to the font, which is fitting for poetry, but the rounded edges give it flair and individuality, and I feel it works well alongside Brandon Grotesque.
As well as these typed poems, the book also includes small illustrations and handwritten poems, which have always been important to me to include:
(Images taken from the original typsetting of the book)
The book was printed just outside of Chicago on FSC certified in-stock papers, which was important to both me and the publisher, as it cuts down on the environmental impact of custom jobs.
I’m really excited to share this new collection with you, and I really hope you enjoy the book. Your feedback will always be extremely important to me, so please do reach out and let me know what you think.
If you haven’t already, you can order your copy now through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Waterstones, Foyles, Indigo and scores of other retailers. I’ll include links below.
As always, thank you. For reading, for supporting me, for making me feel like I have a reason to write.
Here are some country-specific links to buy Murmuration: