Bookmarks: design tips and examples for haiku poets

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Bookmarks are a great promotional tool for writers and poets. To create a good bookmark for your next haiku conference, you’ll need:

  • image
  • text
  • contact information (name, e-mail, website)
Bookmark by Frank Carey

Bookmark by Frank Carey

This bookmark by Frank C Carey is one of my favorite freebies. On the front, there’s a photo with a haiku. At the back, there’s a red seal, a QR code, and Frank’s contact information. The design is clean and easy to read.

The bookmark is laminated. I like the addition of the twine: the color matches the photo. Not only is the bookmark beautiful, but it is also practical and durable. It’s been, and still is, my favorite bookmark to use.  Every once in a while, I would see the address on the bookmark and visit Frank’s website, so I would say this bookmark was an effective promotional tool for its author.

(Unfortunately, Frank’s website is no longer active. He says he’s been out of the haiku game but continues to write science fiction. Considering I visited his website 3-4 times in 2 years, the bookmark did a good job in promoting him.)

Moon bookmark

I like this bookmark by Jennifer Strickland. The design is beautiful. However, it doesn’t have the author’s contact information (website, e-mail).

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Moon bookmark, by Jennifer Sutherland (HNA 2015)

I like the simplicity of this laminated bookmark, but I don’t know the name of the author.

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You can get creative with the photo and text alignment, like Margaret Beverland from New Zealand.

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Bookmarks by Margaret Beverland

Why not use a different material, like a tag made of cloth?

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Tag by Wanda Cook ; bookmark by an unknown author

You can also add more than one haiku, following this example by Claudia Coutu Radmore

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Bookmark by Clauda Coutu Radmore

Kala Ramesh created this beautiful bookmark with haiku, line drawing, and decorative twine.

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Stanford Forrester used a printing press to create his bookmarks. This means he selected each font, placed them, and aligned them in a printing press, added the ink and printed the bookmarks one at a time.

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Bookmark, by Stanford M Forrester

Tips for designing bookmarks:

  • Make it beautiful so people will keep it.
  • Add a twine so the bookmark won’t get lost in a book.
  • Create them months in advance (it takes time to print them)

Are you thinking about creating  a bookmark as your freebie for the next Haiku North America conference? I hope these examples inspire you.

In the next post, I’ll write about creating postcards.

Freebie: an introduction

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Freebie table (HNA 2015)

Freebie table (HNA 2015)

With Haiku North America around the corner, it’s time to think about the freebie you’ll bring to the conference.  A freebie is a promotional item you give to attendees at a conference. A freebie can take different forms: bookmarks, leaflets, postcards, 3D objects.

Whatever format you chose, a freebie must fit certain criteria to be successful.

The best freebies are:

  1. Beautiful
  2. Well written
  3. Good promotional tool for the author
  4. Portable

Now let’s look at each criterion with some examples.

 

1. Beautiful: does your freebie have a wow factor? A nice cover that will get people to pay attention? Is it printed on good quality paper? Color paper? Is the shape unusual?

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Leaf-shaped haiku freebie by Deborah P Kolodji (HNA 2015)

 

2. Well written: Have you included your best haiku? Is the contents free of typos and grammar mistakes?  Extra points if your contents fit the theme of the conference.

Booklets by Tanya McDonald

Booklets by Tanya McDonald

 

3. Good promotional tool for the author: have you included your name and contact information? The main goal of a freebie is promotion, so don’t forget these important details. A freebie is your business card.

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Bookmark by Frank Carey.

 

4. Portable: is your freebie small enough to fit in a luggage? Or is it cumbersome? I took a picture of this beautiful rock by Jeff Hoagland (HNA 2015). Although I really liked the haiku and the concept, there was no way I could have brought back this massive 1 pound rock in my suitcase.

Haiku Rock by Jeff Hoagland (HNA 2015)

Haiku Rock by Jeff Hoagland (HNA 2015)

In the next couple days, I’ll show you more examples of promotional items for writers and share some tips about creating a freebie for your next conference.

Do you know what freebie you’ll bring to your next conference?

 

 

Haidan – May 2016 issue

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Since January 2016, Old Pond Comics is published in Japan. I’ve been working with Emiko Miyashita, a haiku poet who is writing a monthly column on haiku translations for the new journal Haidan. Every month, Emiko sends me three haiku and I provide a haiku-cartoon to accompany her article.

The publisher sends me copies of the journals, but only months after publication, so Emiko occasionally sends me pictures of what the article looks like as soon as she gets her copy.

Here’s a photo of the May 2016 issue showing beautiful Japanese items on her desk. She gave me permission to share this.

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Haidan (May 2016 issue). Photo by Emiko Miyashita.

 

Here’s the comic:

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In the distant hills

A patch where sunlight touches

The withered meadows.

— Kyoshi (haiku translated by Donald Keene)

New Year : “The Fifth Season” in haiku

haiku rhblythIn publications, it’s common to see haiku poems organized in four sections named after the four seasons: Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter.  But in some traditional Japanese haiku books, you’ll sometimes find a fifth section, or fifth “season”, dedicated to the New Year. It’s because “The New Year is a season by itself”, wrote R.H. Blyth in Haiku.

Blyth explains that New Year used to be celebrated in the spring:

“When the lunar calendar was in vogue, January the First was what is now about the beginning of February. Plum was blooming in sheltered places, and the spirit of spring was already in the air.” (R.H. Blyth, Haiku)

That’s why in the New Year section, you’ll often find spring haiku like this one:

Even my shadow
Is safe and sound and in the best of health,
This first morning of spring.

Issa (Tr. R.H. Blyth)

Spring turns to Winter

In 1873, after Japan moved to the Gregorian calendar, New Year’s Day was celebrated on January 1st.

The Fifth Season

Some western translators who were accustomed to four seasons – spring, summer, autumn, winter – weren’t sure how deal with the New Year section in haiku books.

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Haiku, Volume 2: Spring, by R.H. Blyth. The New Year has its own section. (Hokuseido Press)

Some editors kept a separate section for New Year – sometimes referred to as “The Fifth Season” (although it’s technically the first) – which was often placed before the spring section.

Other editors integrated the New Year’s haiku in the spring section so they could stick to the four seasons known in the Western world. Therefore, New Year’s haiku would be found at the beginning of the spring section, with the spring haiku.

So, if you are looking for New Year’s haiku in an anthology or a saijiki, look at the table of contents for a separate New Year section, or browse the beginning of the spring section.

Interesting fact

In R.H. Blyth’s Haiku, The New Year is a separate section that appears in Volume 2: Spring, before the Spring haiku section.haiku fayard

When Roger Munier (Haiku, Editions Fayard, 1979) translated a selection of haiku from R.H. Blyth’s book in French, he integrated the New Year haiku with the spring section.

There might be two explanations for this:

  • he thought there weren’t enough New Year haiku to create a separate section for them (he translated 10 New Year poems, or 4 pages, while R.H. Blyth had about 50 haiku with commentaries displayed over 20 pages), or
  • he didn’t want to confuse the public or write a long explanation about why New Year haiku have their own section.

So, similar content, but two ways to deal with the Fifth Season.

What would you do if you were in this situation? Would you keep The Fifth Season?

The First Dream of the Year

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In Japan, the first dream of the year (Hatsuyume) is deemed to reveal something about the year to follow. A common greeting in Japan around that time of the year, but especially on January 2nd, is “What was your first dream of the year?” (Donna hatsuyume o mita?)

The first dream of the year;
I kept it a secret,
And smiled to myself.

Shō-u (Tr. R.H. Blyth)

Since people stayed up all night on December 31, the first dream of the year was actually the one occurring on the night of January 1st. That’s why January 2nd is known as Hatsuyume (day of The First Dream of the Year) in Japan.

op-first-dream-of-the-yearIt was particularly lucky if you dreamed about Mount Fuji, a hawk, or an eggplant.

I hope you had a good dream. Best wishes for the New Year!