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5

The Raven

I started by watching Peter's videos over a couple of days. Then I watched them again and made notes about annotations, sketches, mediums and all the information I could gather.

My next step was to choose a poem. I went with The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe, because I've always liked the poem and it's well known by most people. I've read it many times, and it struck a chord with me from the very first time I did. Every time I read it, I get more from it - mood, imagery, meaning. 

My next step was to print the poem and make annotations. It really helped me to physically complete this task with pen and paper. It made the exercise more conscious for me, and the ideas seemed to flow more freely.

Doing the annotations really helped me get into the poem like I've never done before. 

Here's what I got from it:

  • Dreary, sad, lonely
  • Poe is lonely and misses Lenore (lost love? passed away?)
  • Terror, haunting
  • Fear overcome by curiosity
  • Echo "nevermore"
  • Silent, staring raven
  • Poe feels hopeless - everyone has left him "Other friends have flown before..."
  • Unhappiness
  • Demons and angels
  • Is the raven a prophet or a devil?
  • "Take thy beak from out my heart" - he is heartbroken
  • "my soul from out that shadow lies floating on the floor shall be lifted nevermore" he feels damned

It's not a very uplifting poem... 

Then I started sketching, using the template provided. Here is one sheet of ideas:

The word "nevermore" echoed throughout the poem. Poe believed that was all the bird could say, and this word tortured him. I thought it would be great to use this text on the cover, not only because it's highly significant to the poem, but it's easily recognizable. I tried to play with shadows and feathers as well as different configurations of bird and text. I thought about the broken heart and the bird's "eyes burned into my bosom's core."

One of my last steps was to try some things on the computer. I came up with a handful of covers, and chose three that I liked best. I let those three percolate for a while, and then chose the one that I felt worked best.

My idea was to use the word "nevermore" as an anchor for the raven's shadow. I didn't want to use a literal raven, so the shadow worked well running off the page. When I turned it upside-down, it almost became an abstract object, but recognizable at the same time. I used the text "nevermore" to separate the cover into two sections. Both have a dreary feel to them, but above the text, there seems to be some hope - some colour. Then the text cuts across the plane, as the raven's spoken word cut Poe's hope down when he implored the bird. Everything below it is unsaturated, and devoid of hope - dreary. The raven's shadow splits the space and creates an imbalance from left to right, which formed the perfect niche for the title and author text. When I look at this cover, I get the feeling of the ominous bird hovering as it did in the poem, as well as the mixed feelings of curiosity and terror that Poe had as when someone was gently rapping, rapping at his chamber door. 

I really enjoyed the videos - Peter's outline and descriptions of his process were great. I loved that he showed some examples of his work and tied them into the course. I appreciate the opportunity to try something new!

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