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Restless White Fields

Barbara Langhorst’s unsentimental collection of poetry revisits a violent personal tragedy. Over the course of the book, we learn that the author’s father shot and killed her mother, then committed suicide.

Treading lightly around such difficult emotional territory, it was a challenge to determine the right marketing approach for the book and how much information to reveal about the traumatic subject matter. 

My initial idea, a few wispy pieces of Kleenex, was fuelled by a line from the collection: “your steps corner the bed your living death fades forgotten in tissue paper slips.” It was considered too amorphous, not drawing a strong enough connection to grasses in a pasture like I intended.

The gunsight concept went too far the other direction: overly aggressive and emphatic. The author wanted to focus on the themes of healing and rebuilding, rather than the brutal event itself. The final cover removed the weapon reference, leaving just the cold, blanched field and some translucent type.

The typeface is Goudy’s lyrical Deepdene, with some very sexy ligatures.