Current Issue

close-up of Oliver Byrne's Elements of Euclid color blocking

Vol. 8 (2020)
Issue 1

Design Statement

Each year, TAB uses a new, innovative design for the print issue. This issue is distributed free of charge to contributors from the journal’s entire history, at the Tabula Poetica booth at the AWP Bookfair, and at literary events throughout the year. Contact us if you’d like to receive a copy of a print issue.

This year’s print issue is driven by inclusive design and low-vision principles. We aim to produce an equitable and engaging experience with diverse sight abilities.

Photo of journal cover
Photos of printed journal
Photos of printed journal
Photos of the journal built as a vertical structure

In 1840, William Moon developed an embossed reading system for the blind that was less complex than learning Braille. It was centered in Britain but later shared by missionaries in India, China, Egypt, Australia, and West Africa. It now appears in TAB‘s 2020 print issue. Among other elements, the authors’ names and website addresses are embossed on the pages.

Sample text of "Dr Moon's Alphabet for the Blind" From William Moon's book Light for the Blind, London: Longmans & Co., 1877
“Dr Moon’s Alphabet for the Blind” From William Moon’s book Light for the Blind, London: Longmans & Co., 1877

The Moon system was particularly useful for people who had lost their sight later in life because the Roman alphabet had already been deeply rooted in their cognitive recognition and recall and proved easier to learn than the abstract system of Braille. Moon’s system could be taught and learned in only a few days.

Although Moon’s system was more accessible and easier to implement universally in other countries, it was more expensive to print. Braille became the more recognized and used system by the late 19th century. Moon’s system is still used today by those who find the tactile sensitivity required of Braille to be challenging and to help children adapt to a tactile reading system before they learn Braille.

The color blocking used in this issue of TAB echoes the approach that Oliver Byrne applied to The Elements of Euclid in 1847. Byrne translated all seven books of the Elements into a visually dominating presentation of diagrams and color to help categorize and highlight information. Byrne published mathematical and engineering works in the more text-based tradition, but with The Elements of Euclid, he made it clear by his subtitle, “…in which coloured diagrams and symbols are used instead of letters for the greater ease of learners,” that he intended the publication to be more accessible.

title page of Byrne's book titled the elements of Euclid from 1847

The first issue of Volume 8 of TAB uses colors and geometric blocking similar to Byrne’s to help demarcate content and organize the reading experience. The design also uses a matte finish and increased contrast for readers with varying contrast sensitivity.

page 61 from Byrne's book of Euclid's Elements, which shows mathematical formulas using various colored squares and rectangles

In addition to the visual elements, the pages of the 2020 print issue of TAB are not pages so much as a set of twelve rectangular cards on which some poems appear vertically and others appear horizontally. While the stack arrives with poems ordered alphabetically by last name of the poets, the contents are not paginated and can be shuffled and read in any order.

Further, the cards are notched on all sides, which allows the reader to hook them together in various physical forms. It’s relatively straightforward to build a structure that reorients the poems. As with previous print-issue designs, this year’s encourages readers to be aware of reading as an experience.

TAB print issue built into a tower