How To Write Book Spine Poetry
Book Spine Poetry came about following Nina Katchadourian's Sorted Books project, in which she gathered people's books and stacked them on top of one another to consequently turn book titles into lines of poetry. Not only is spine poetry cheap and inventive, it's also an interesting way to share the books that you enjoy or can relate to creatively. The composition process can be a little lengthy but it's more than worth it once you're sat with a poetic stack of books in front of you. I promise. Okay pals, switch your 'reading poetry' heads on because I'm about to share the results of my very first go with you! Stick around for my tips on how to write book spine poetry too!
AS I LAY DYING,
EVERYTHING IS ILLUMINATED:
GEORGE'S MARVELLOUS MEDICINE
THE ASK AND THE ANSWER
A HANDFUL OF DUST.
the accidental: commentary
My first ever attempt at book spine poetry! Spine poetry isn't usually titled, but I felt like The Accidental was quite fitting for my piece so ~yolo~. I didn't intend for this piece to be so dark and suffocating but that's just what happened. You can't really manipulate or judge the creative process, eh?! The first two lines of the poem were both titles that instinctively stood out to me and I love the way in which they worked together seamlessly, allowing me to introduce and explore my narrator's vulnerability within a few lines. I've added in some punctuation above, just for lols, but it works with or without.
I really like the duality of life and death in this piece. Death drives the piece throughout but its origin isn't explicit at first. Whilst the poem begins with death, the tone is initially quite flexible and it could almost be Romantic in an enlightened hey-here's-stuff-that-makes-sense-to-me-now way. However, the menacing vignettes soon play out, beginning with George's Marvellous Medicine and abruptly ending with A Handful of Dust. The readers expectations and hopes for the narrator are dashed before they can really process what has happened or work out who the characters really are. There's something extremely powerful in the way in which we relate to death that is really fascinating to explore in poetry, I think. That could just be me though...
HOW TO WRITE BOOK SPINE POETRY
I'm still a bit of a book spine poetry n00b when you think about it but I thought I'd impart all of the wisdom that I have gained so far in order to help you guys out! Leave your own advice in the comments too. Good luck!
| browse your shelves & note down titles that stand out to you
| alternatively, note down titles that resonate with your life & experiences
| group titles that work well together thematically
| take it easy - don't put pressure on yourself
| plan, draft and re-draft your composition - move titles around & substitute ones that don't work!
| align the spines & snap a photo
| bask in your creative glory