It’s been a job, but I am assuring and reassuring myself that I have just uploaded the very last text revision before I hold a copy of the book in my hands. Hopefully, I can order a couple of proof copies of Ida: Searching for The Jazz Baby later today. Very exciting!
In the meantime, I thought I’d have a little fun by teasing a little cover detail.
It took forever to determine an effective title for this collection of poems and a way to present it that would look appropriate and also convey some of what I was hoping to achieve with it. Th eneed to resolve these things became more pressing in the context of having a paper to present about the process of uncovering a genuine Australian heroine (or even anti-heroine) from the dusty annals of newspaper archive dungeaons around the country . . . not really, but in my mind the image lends a little research cred to the undertaking.
So. Main title, above. Ida in silhouette with era appropriate fonting. A little art-deco-ish, in my view of it.
This whole collection has come from researched sources – mainly newspaper headlines and articles of the day, but also Suburban Historical Societies, Asylum Tours pamphlets and wherever else I could find references that were helpful. I’ve tried to incorproate a sense of Ida being the news ‘flavour of the day’ on the book cover (above), while including images of the articles and direct quotations in the body of the book to drive the narrative. An example of the kinds of quotation or extract that I found so interesting and inspiring is this one:
‘The experience gained there has been useful to me. It has helped me to judge instantaneously if a hat will suit me or not’
“St Kilda Drama” News, Adelaide 13/10/1923
WHat is so interesting about that? Well, this quote comes from a newspaper interview with Ida, clearly well after she had achieved notoriety. It seems to me the voice of a young woman. A young girl who draws some of her own sense of herself and her grounding from the life experience gained working in a milliners shop. Her life was in inner-suburban Melbourne. The interview appeared in a newspaper in Adelaide – half a continent away.
Finally, Ida herself. I turned up a few striking images of Ida. The young woman I turned into a silhouette for the cover, A widow mourning her man after he and another petty gangster shot each other to death. A swanky young woman with hat and cane featured on her own Wanted Poster issued by the police when she went ‘on the lam’ with Squizzy after a robbery.
The image I’ve chosen to feature on the cover and share today, though, captures and reflects a very young woman – perhaps the young woman drawing her certainties from experience in millinery. A naive innocent – at least in the eyes of a poet pouring over old newspaper entries dating back almost a hundred years ago.
I present Ida Pender.
I’m so very pleased with this collection. Now, as I write, I see my last changes have been incorporated in a fresh digital proof of the book, so I’m off to place an order for a physical copy.