Poetry: Remembrance and Tagging

18 May 2013

ePub3, PDF, , Production Challenges, Demonstration Book

Next year is the 100th Anniversary of the start of The Great War, call that because no-one thought anyone would be stupid enough to repeat it. It is of course now called World War One. Siegfreid Sassoon is a signficant and famous war poet from the Great War. War poet was a description he did not particularly like.

Next year is the 100th Anniversary of the start of "The Great War", called that because no-one thought anyone would be stupid enough to repeat it. It is of course now called World War One. 

Siegfried Sassoon is a significant and famous war poet from the Great War. War poet was a description he did not particularly like. As an officer in World War I, he was wounded and lauded twice with medals for bravery. His poetry—at times violent, always truthful—used forceful, realistic verse to express his conviction of the stupid brutality and waste of war.

We have produced Siegfried's poems here in a number of digital formats to give everyone on any device the opportunity to read this amazing poetry in The War Poems of Siegfried Sassoon.

Poetry Production

With ePub3, many of the CSS shackles and burdens imposed by  yesterday's reading systems have gone. For five years poetry has been the victim of reading systems such as ADE and Kindle Mobi especially with respect to center aligned poetry.

It was time to revisit our poetry tagging CSS in IGP:FoundationXHTML and move back to the high ground for ePub3. I looked at the rather crazy poetry tagging extension project in DocBook and am highly grateful for the increased sophistication available with XHTML5 and directly applied CSS-3 for both print and ebook formats. The world has moved on even if the XML crazies enjoy being locked in their windowless schema cells.

Over the past three to four years we have produced several hundred poetry books for both print and ebooks using IGP:Digital Publisher (DP). Complex poetry tagging is particularly easy in DP and the tools have been purpose designed for productivity and quality detail. However styling and presentation still takes considered effort.

While basic poetry tagging patterns are relatively straight-forward the "big new digital-content production thing" we have to consider is platform and device screen size. This doesn't affect those producing for iBooks who have the one size fits all advantage. However this is a significant consideration for delivering interactive and enhanced education content around the world using ePub3 and staying away from custom production tools, formats, apps and systems.

Education content in particular benefits from the combination of fixed layout and reflowable sections available in the ePub3 specification, and currently implemented only in AZARDI.

With AZARDI:Content Fulfilment we have to deliver fixed layout and reflowable content to users with 5 inch tablet phones to 10 inch + tablets. The delivery requirement also includes workstation screens of all sizes. That is Hindi, Marathi and English poetry to a crazy list of screen sizes.


The War Poems of Siegfried Sassoon. Downloads

We have made this book of astounding real human internal conflict available in multiple formats at no charge because IGP:Digital Publisher outputs multiple editions AND formats simultaneously.

Poetry is perhaps the common literary genre that most benefits from fixed layout presentation.

ePub3 Fixed Layout. Designed primarily for AZARDI but will work on Apple iBooks, the only other ePub3 Fixed Layout reader available.

ePub3 Reflowable. Standard ePub3 for all conformant readers. This edition uses a number of CSS "tricks" to try and improve the poetry presentation at different screen sizes.

The ePub Editions can be downloaded from the AZARDI Resource Page here.

A5 Paperback Print PDF. Ready to go to the printing press, or read on your desktop. Download here.

Online RGB PDF. The PDF has links and inserted cover. Download here.

The Cover

The cover image was selected from hundreds downloaded because we wanted to reflect the pointlessness of the conflict rather than the gristly details of dead bodies. We had to make a choice; Death, duty, melancholy, despair, anger; we went with this "Leave me alone, I'm exhausted." moment captured in this image from the Scottish Archives. 

It also fitted in somewhat with the softer tone of the poem "The Dug-out"

The Dug-out

Why do you lie with your legs ungainly huddled,

And one arm bent across your sullen cold

Exhausted face? It hurts my heart to watch you,

Deep-shadow’d from the candle’s guttering gold;

And you wonder why I shake you by the shoulder;

Drowsy, you mumble and sigh and turn your head….

You are too young to fall asleep for ever;

And when you sleep you remind me of the dead.

Get Reading

While poetry may not be everyone's "cup-of-tea", Siegfried Sassoon's war poems should be mandatory reading for all.

We had planned an illustrated edition with war trench images on the pages and may still do this. There are any number of horrifying pictures available but the words of Siegfried Sassoon are probably best left to work in the head and probably don't need any visual reinforcement.

I encourage you to download, get reading and turn-on to Siegfried Sassoon in your format of choice.

Posted by Richard Pipe


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