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Book Spine Poetry


The divine Maria Popova of brainpickings.org has been celebrating National Poetry Month with book spine poetry – a form of found poem wherein the author creates poetry using the titles found on the spines of books. I think my favorite of hers (as of the writing of this blog post, she has posted four) is the New York one (her third – punctuation mine):

“People
occupy
everything;
everything sings
a glorious enterprise -
this is New York.

But it could be argued that her first worked best as a standalone poem:

“I live in the future and here’s how it works
people
waste and want
everything
in pursuit of the unknown.”

Beautiful, no? I think it’s delightful, and decided to try my own hand at it using books from both work and home. I don’t feel it’s exactly what I wanted, but I enjoyed the process and will likely try again. This one is a poem of love and loss. I call it “Start to Finish”.

“Great expectations;
relationship marketing
among the gently mad
(the rest of us).
Choose me.
The romantic period,
the last lonely Saturday,
Greek tragedies -
the end of the affair.”

The books which contributed to the poem:

-Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
-Relationship Marketing by Ian H. Gordon
-Among the Gently Mad by Nicholas Basbanes
-The Rest of Us from Book Industry Study Group
-Choose Me by Evelyn Lau
- The Norton Anthology of English Literature: Romantic Period
-The Last Lonely Saturday by Jordan Crane
-Greek Tragedies by Grene and Lattimore
-The End of the Affair by Graham Greene

It would be wonderful to see/hear attempts from other people. Have you created a book spine poem? Leave the poem (or a link to the photo) in the comments!

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Beth Carswell

About Beth Carswell

I've been reading, selling, researching, loving and writing about books with AbeBooks since 2000.

4 Responses to “Book Spine Poetry”

  1. Mothers Need Timeouts Too

    Surfacing one day
    Far from the madding crowd (the sound and the fury)
    This is what we find:
    The secret garden, a thousand splendid suns, a separate peace.
    Life before man.
    Life before life.
    Resurrection.

    Inspired by your post & sought in my home library.

    Books which contributed to the poem:
    Mothers Need Time-outs, Too by Susan Callahan, Anne Nolen and Katrin Schumann
    Surfacing by Margaret Atwood
    One Day by David Nicholls
    Far from the madding crowd by Thomas Hardy
    The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
    This is what we find by Chris Paradine
    The Secret Garden by Francis Hodgson Burnett
    A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
    A Separate Peace by John Knowles
    Life Before Man by Margaret Atwood
    Life Before Life by Jim B Tucker & Ian Stevenson
    Resurrection by Leo Tolstoy

  2. Beth Carswell

    Beautiful, BT – that one came out lovely. Very rejuvenating.

    If you’d ever like to share a photo of your spine-stack-poem, we’d love to see it – email it to media@abebooks.com or post it to our Facebook wall here:
    https://www.facebook.com/pages/AbeBookscom/6607674487

    Thank you for contributing!

  3. Book Spine Poetry | Reading Copy Book Blog great ideas for this world!

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