Anna’s edition of LUNCH POEMS, by Frank O’Hara

ImageWhat is the concept for my book? In what ways is that concept creative and original?

I chose Frank O’Hara’s Lunch Poems for my midterm project. “The title refers to both “O’Hara’s capacity to write the poems while sitting in Times Square during his lunch hour, as well as the ease in which a reader could take the pocket-sized volume along and read it during his own lunch hour.” (

The idea that these poems were written on O’Hara’s lunch break, and were published with the intention that they be read on a lunch break, was the reason I chose this book. Eating lunch/taking a lunch break is a common, physical, and every-day-experience, and I thought it would be interesting and fun to try to translate that experience into a book form.

My concept for the book was to make the reading experience like the lunches Frank O’Hara might have been eating while he wrote this book: a sandwich, with lettuce and tomato, wrapped in wax paper and carried in a brown paper bag. Except, instead of lunchmeat or cheese, there are poems in this sandwich.

In what ways does my concept challenge me creatively and structurally?

My biggest creative challenge was deciding what approach to take to convey the lunchtime scene/feeling that I wanted. I thought about using commercial lunch food containers as part of my graphic content, creating some kind of lunch box case for the text block, and other approaches. Ultimately, I decided on creating a “sandwich book.” The case would be printed with a slice of bread (front and back), and there would be lettuce and tomato at the beginning and end of the book.

My concept did not post a significant structural challenge, because a sandwich-evoking book could be made out of several different book forms, including accordion, pamphlet, or even the flag book (tomato, lettuce, meat and cheese as flags? could be fun!).

What is the level of craftsmanship that I have brought to the book?

What successes and failures did I have in constructing the book?

I tried very hard to make each book as clean and polished as possible. All of my graphic components were hand-done, so those were the parts that took the most time and concentration to execute in a (mostly) uniform way. There are still some unintentional marks made by the stamps, but I think that is just part of the charm of stamping.

As for failures, I had some problems re: measurements being consistent. For example, my illustrated pages were a little bit too tall, so I ended up trimming the heads of my text blocks once they were in their cases. There were other similar problems that came up as I worked.

In what ways have I fully explored and even stretched the book form I used?

I think I have fully explored the pamphlet form to the extent possible. Since a sandwich is layered the same way as a book, I did not need to stretch it in order to execute my concept.

How is the form of the book linked to the content of the book?

The content of the book, Lunch Poems, was written during, and to be read during, lunch breaks. There are a variety of topics and scenes described in this book, so I was careful to choose poems that describe some of Frank O’Hara’s own lunch break experiences walking around New York City.

My book has been created to evoke the idea of a brown bag lunch. I chose the pamphlet form because I wanted the stitching to be hidden, and for the reader’s attention to be on the graphics and lunch-y presentation. Wrapping the book in wax paper and putting it in a paper bag takes the presentation a step further, bringing in the experience of eating lunch during a school or work day.

What graphic and typographic choices did I make for this book and why?

How do these elements impact the book and my concept?

GRAPHIC CHOICES: Instead of using Photoshop or Illustrator, I carved stamps to decorate my cover and end pages. I decided to use stamps because I wanted the book to have a casual, hand-made feel. I think the choice to use stamps helped me to achieve that feel,  and they give the book some physical of texture.

TYPOGRAPHIC CHOICES: I selected the Cambria font because it is attractive and easy to read in small sizes. The font, to me, is not overly formal and has an aesthetic appeal. However, after learning more about this typeface (after all my books were finished, of course) I think I should have explored more options. I would have liked to find a type that was more in-line with the aesthetic I was able to achieve graphically.

What is the name/title of my book, and why was that name/title selected?

I used the original title of Frank O’Hara’s book, Lunch Poems, because the ideas of these poems being written for an audience on their lunch hour was an important part of my concept for the edition.

If I were to make this book over again, what things would I change (in process, concept, and construction), and why?

I would have researched my typographic options more extensively. I think I also might have left out the third poem – POEM (Lana Turner has collapsed!) – because it does not fit with the rest of the content or concept as well as the other two poems do.

I also would have liked to insert more graphics into the book. After I finished my BUILD BOOKLET printing process, I realized that I did not keep my intentionally blank pages. I was still able to put them on the end pages and cover, but I had wanted to put some of them in with the rest of the content also.


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