Book Spine Poetry
I came across book spine poetry a few years ago and was blown away by its concept. Book spine poetry is placing spines of books so that they read like a sentence(s) or a poem.
The concept of book spine poetry appeared in 1993 with Nina Katchadourian’s Sorted Books Project. Katchadourian began collecting interesting titles and arranging them in clusters to create a column of poetry.
Since the time I started doing the book spine poetry, I wished I could create one in a book store (or a library). The reason is simple… the book titles in these 2 places simply outnumber the ones in my book cupboard. (Oh, I do have a pretty decent collection of books, though!)
But, this wish of mine never materialized for these 2 reasons…
(1) I usually go to a book store for buying a last minute gift for someone, so time is a constraint.
(2) Creating book spine poetry is a time consuming process. On a busy day at a bookstore, if I went about looking at the titles in all sections and made piles of books, I am sure the store guys would call the security to throw me out. Ok, that’s an exaggeration, but I am sure, they’d not appreciate it.
Few years ago, I had a connecting flight from Pune to Jaipur via Delhi with a stopover of 4 hours at Indira Gandhi International Airport T3 Terminal. A deserted book store at 2 am, with a sleepy sales guy was simply a perfect opportunity to make my dream come true. I gathered books and arranged them in a pile, added or removed books, for quite some time until the sales guy at the counter woke up from his slumber and looked at me curiously. I explained and he liked the idea and read my incomplete story with book spines aloud. He looked around to add his inputs but gave up after a minute and went back to fiddling with his phone.
After craning my neck at a weird angle to read the book titles for half an hour or so, I came up with this book spine poetry…
It reads like this…
When I was 25, single in the city, one day in the season of rain
An interview with self – thinking fast and slow – unthink
I can see clearly now.
Dont die with your music still in you.
If truth be told… dont marry before you are 30.
Did you like it?
I created another book spine poetry, rather a story, with my collection of books, this morning.
Here it is…
It reads like this…
Dear John. Before I say goodbye, I’ll be seeing you, after the darkness, on the street where you live.
We need to talk about Kevin.
The nightmare is for real.
The innocent wife,
PS I love you.
Which one did you like the most?
In case you are interested in creating book spine poetry with your collection of books, here are the steps to create one.
Four Steps to Create Book Spine Poetry
Step 1: Browse through a lot of book spines and choose one or two that spark your interest or that speak to your heart.
Step 2: Find other book spines that complement your first choice. Don’t edit yet – grab any spines that you think may work! Stop when you have 6-8 books.
Step 3: Start playing with combinations of spines, swapping and changing the order. Don’t settle with your first try! Try putting your poem together like a puzzle and explore how changing the order changes the meaning of your poem.
Step 4: Read your poem aloud to yourself. When it sounds right, snap a photo of your completed poem.
Did you like the concept of Book Spine Poetry? Do share your thoughts in the comment section below.
April 22, 2020 8:51 am|
I had come across it but did not know till reading your post that its called Book Spine Poetry! Thanks for this enlightenment, Shilpa.
Out of the two you have shared here, I liked “When I was 25” more.
April 22, 2020 2:29 pm|
Same with me, I knew the concept but not the name.
April 22, 2020 8:56 am|
April 22, 2020 8:58 am|
Interesting to hear about the spine poetry, I like the first one shilpa and looks like fun to play this …. now we are in lock down, i can try this one of these days. Thanks for sharing:)
April 22, 2020 9:07 am|
It was very interesting! Being introduced to ‘Spine Poetry’ was great. It seems quite fun and would love to try my hands at this. Thank you for sharing this.
April 22, 2020 9:28 am|
I always loved the book spine poetry. The first time I heard about it was 4 years ago in your blog.
April 22, 2020 11:30 am|
Oh, I never knew about Book spine poetry. That’s the best thing to do while waiting for a flight. Thanks for the idea. Most of my books are still at my parent’s place. But I’ll try this out when I get the opportunity. It sounds like a fun thing to do. But it can be time-consuming indeed. That’s one more to add to the drawbacks of an ebook! 🙂
April 22, 2020 11:45 am|
There was a book spine poetry about staying home that was making rounds in social media. I didn’t this was a thing. Looks really fun. I loved the one from your home collection more. Pretty creative 😀
April 22, 2020 1:15 pm|
Hey! I love this! I didn’t know book spine poetry existed. I don’t have very many books. I’d like to try it out someday. Loved the second poetry. It’s amazing how you can make such deep poetry with book spines. Perhaps because the titles are thought through. 🙂
April 22, 2020 2:28 pm|
Let me guess, it was a Relay bookstore.
So innovative (and brave) of you to do this. Lucky that the salesguy played along. Or else it might have landed you in a tiny trouble.
I usually spend most of my time in a Relay bookshop in the airport whenever I have an early morning flight to catch. Next time will try this. You gave me a great idea. It would help me kill time and not feel sleepy.
April 22, 2020 4:07 pm|
There’s been an interesting book spine poetry on coronavirus and the lockdown going around Whatsapp. Have you seen that? I like your creations too!
April 22, 2020 4:08 pm|
I love this concept and you are a master crafter. Thanks for sharing how you do it.
April 22, 2020 4:24 pm|
I did not know what a book spine poetry is. Thanks for introducing this. Both your poems are really good. I am sure the time taken to create these would be …. Last week I received a picture message on Whatsapp with books … telling us about the corona. I was amazed at how the books were kept.
April 22, 2020 6:00 pm|
This is totally new to me. Really interesting.
S is for …
April 22, 2020 7:32 pm|
Wow, thankyou introducing me to this rocking concept Shilpa, I love the spine poetry you created. I will love to create one soon too and will send you a picture.
April 22, 2020 7:51 pm|
I am not that great at writing poetry but then this gives me a glimmer of hope to go about a structure of some sort to work around.
April 22, 2020 9:20 pm|
Wow! Thank you for letting us know about book spine poetry. I will make one soon. This is so cool
April 22, 2020 10:24 pm|
Book Spine Poetry…interesting. I liked it a lot. I am going to gather my favorite books and going to see if I can come up with spine poetry. I liked “When I was 25” more.
April 22, 2020 11:39 pm|
This is something new to me Shilpa and I had not heard about this before. thanks a lot dear for sharing this amazing inofrmation.
April 23, 2020 2:40 am|
We did one of these for a GISH Scavenger Hunt challenge one year. It is a lot more work than it seems! I enjoyed both of your book spine poetry versions.Weekends In Maine
April 23, 2020 5:07 am|
This is very interesting…. I have seen this before… But neither knew the name or the concept!
April 24, 2020 8:21 am|
One of my daycare moms manages a book store. I can not wait to share with her this idea!! Love it!!
April 27, 2020 9:05 pm|
I never knew about this concept and I’m glad you’ve introduced me to it . Will definitely try it when I have more time after everyone gets back to work .
August 16, 2020 10:16 pm|
Hey I first thought, “who will take so much effort? Also is that a thing now?”.
But looking at your attempts, I am blown away. I am going to look at my tiny book collection for something to do like this.
Thanks for the inspiration. I come to read your posts, for this very reason. Something interesting and worth reading. Always. Keep writing 🙂
February 18, 2021 10:48 pm|
Very good post really helful