National Poetry Month: Book Spine Poetry

Readers to this blog will remember that I often like to feature Book Spine Poetry here as a fun activity, and now I’m challenging all of you to do it too! 

The idea is to stack books on top of each other so that their titles form the lines of a found poem. For example, here is one I cooked up to put on my Hallowe’en-decorated mantel last year.

The tale of Murasaki:
Cleopatra’s daughter,
witches of east end,
the lust lizard of Melancholy Cove,
tea,
Arabian nights.
Spoiler alert:
any rogue will do.

And now it’s your turn! Spend a little time with your library (or at one) and send me an image of your best book spine poem for a chance to be featured here on the blog later this month. You can email it to forest [dot] of [dot] diamonds [at] gmail [dot] com, and be sure to put “BOOK SPINE POEM” in the subject line so it’s easier for me to find in my overflowing inbox. (I’m also happy to take any helpful suggestions on how to peaceably achieve Inbox Zero — without metaphorically burning it to the ground, that is.)

Thanks!

Witchy Weekends: Holiday Decor

Welcome to October and the return of Witchy Weekends! Thank you to everyone who voted in the poll last month to help me curate this year’s series. Turns out the votes were all over the place! So a seasonal smorgasbord it is…

This weekend I’m posting a book spine poem I created while I was decorating my house for Hallowe’en. So far only the library is done — okay, mostly done — but I will get to the outside of the house in the very near future; I just want the heavy rains to be finished for a while first. (I also have a mountain of papers to grade and report card comments to write this week, so…)

One of my favorite things about book spine poetry is that it illustrates the versatility and importance of punctuation. (Yes, I’m a grammar geek.) Similarly to grammar, punctuation is architecture: it gives our sentences structure. Book spine poems are just a bunch of seemingly unrelated or random words — until you add punctuation in there and create a story.

Enjoy!

The tale of Murasaki:
Cleopatra’s daughter,
witches of east end,
the lust lizard of Melancholy Cove,
tea,
Arabian nights.
Spoiler alert:
any rogue will do.
And for a bonus, here’s the rest of this year’s mantel.

Poem-A-Day 2021, Day 27: Book Spine Poetry

One of my favorite kinds of found poetry is the Book Spine Poem. Tonight I made one entirely out of a few of the poetry books in my personal library.

If you’re not familiar with this form, the idea is to make a poem out of the titles of books. Once you see one, it’s perhaps easier to get the idea. So here’s mine (with my arranged and punctuated text below):

original love
the currency:

poisoned apples,
stolen mummies,
exchangeable bonds —

in danger,
we put things in our mouths.

lay back the darkness:
ungodliness,
the resurrection trade,
footnotes in the order of disappearance…

shipbreaking
joyful noise!

asunder:
the magic my body becomes!

yesterday had a man in it.

the dream songs:
dance dance revolution.

***

Have you made any Book Spine Poems lately? Want to make one? Feel free to share yours in the comments below.

Poem-A-Day: More BSPs

Every year the library at my school has a Book Spine Poetry contest during April; I’m the judge. Every year I’m delighted and amazed at the incredible creations our students and faculty come up with.

This year we had a 1st Place winner and an Honorable Mention at the faculty level. They’ve given me permission to share theirs with you.

The Honorable Mention went to a BSP by Kate Lambert, who made a poignant comment on the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey — the effects of which are still being felt by many, many people in our city and in our school community.

dark water rising / leave no one behind / homegoing / hopeless / we are not ourselves

And the 1st Place winning Book Spine Poem goes to Harlan Howe, not only because it’s really good, but also because it is the longest BSP I’ve ever seen that was still coherent and cohesive. You don’t normally see ones nearly this long still be making any sense by the end.

things I can’t forget / a shattered peace / when / the last librarian / reached / the book thief / after relentless pursuit / the battle / nothing less than war / return to me / one thing stolen / before she ignites / the ground beneath her feet

If you have any book spine poems — they really are easier than they seem like they should be — just go to a bookshelf and start picking out phrases randomly until something catches — please feel free to post them in the comments below or send them to me.

Poem-A-Day: Book Spine Poetry

My posting today is quite late because tonight I took my AP Gothic Lit. students on a field trip: a ghost tour.

Yes, it was just as interesting as it sounds. No, I was not the tour guide. Yes, there was a lot of history. No, no one ended up possessed. Yes, I did get some really cool pictures of orbs.

In honor of tonight’s generally harmless spookiness, I’m posting a book spine poem from this past year’s Hallowe’en mantel. Ever since my husband built me one a few years ago, I have taken great joy in decorating my mantel for the holidays. The Hallowe’en mantel is, so far, my most elaborate. Because the mantel is in our library (which is another way of saying the-room-which-most-people-would-call-a-living-room-but-we-didn’t-put-the-television-in-there-and-instead-lined-the-walls-with-bookshelves-and-then-filled-them-with-our-books), I always make book spine poems as part of it.

If you’ve never seen a book spine poem, you’re in for a treat. These are a special kind of found poem that should become immediately obvious as soon as you see one.

Please feel free to make your own book spine poems and post pictures of them here in the comments section. That would, in fact, make my day!

 

lost / in the land of men / lonely werewolf girl / one hundred years of solitude

Witchy Weekends: Book Spine Poetry

I’m decorating my house for Hallowe’en today, and every year I do a fun mantel which includes some book spine poetry. I try to mix it up each year with different poems. Here are this season’s offerings:

the kingmaker’s daughter / drinking coffee elsewhere / a discovery of witches

 

And in honor of all the actual witches working in service each month in the protection of our country with their bindings:

four sisters, all queens / dime store magic / wicked / chocolat / reason for hope

 

And one more poem, just because it’s up on my mantel, even though it doesn’t have anything to do with witches:

lost / in the land of men / lonely werewolf girl / one hundred years of solitude

 

 

‘Tis the season.

Poem-A-Day: Book Spine Poetry

And so today, as promised, two poems since I missed posting one yesterday.

Book spine poetry is a marvelous thing. Once you see an example, it’s probably pretty easy to figure out how it works. You just use the titles of books as your lines. I suppose you could consider it a type of found poetry.

Every April at my school, the library holds a contest to see who can come into the stacks and “find” the best book spine poems. Here are the two winners from the faculty/staff category this year.

BSP by Christa Forster:  the winter people / wake / dogs of god // reawakened / old magic

 

BSP by Harlan Howe:  spell it out // I was here / yesterday / why not me? // you / betrayed / the man who stayed behind // pregnant pause // I thought you were dead

 

Have you made any book spine poems lately? If so, please send me a picture of it or post it (if you can) in the comments below!

National Poetry Month — Day 1

If you’ve been following this blog for a while you know that during National Poetry Month I like to do some sort of month-long celebration of verse. Sometimes it has taken the form of a poem contest. The last couple of years, I’ve curated a Poem-a-Day series, which has been hugely fun. This year I want to do a little of this, a little of that, to reflect the enormous variety of things to appreciate about poetry. I will never be able to present everything in a month, but that’s okay.

Today will be the first of probably a fair few Book Spine Poems, because I love them. If you’ve not heard of this phenomenon before, BSPs are found poems made by putting the titles on the spines of books together. Every year at my school, the librarian and I sponsor a Book Spine Poetry Contest for the high school students, and frequently one of our teachers, IT wizard Harlan Howe, “primes the pump” on the first day with a BSP of his own. They’re usually really, really good and so entertaining, and this year’s is no exception.

 

20160401_100344
good news for a change / everlasting / geek love / pushing the limits / i am the messenger / out of nowhere / girls like us

 

I’d love to know what you’re doing for National Poetry Month, if anything. If you’d like to share your own poems with me and possibly have them show up here on my blog (I still have a few spots for this month left open), please email me at forest.of.diamonds@gmail.com with your poem and the subject line “Poem-a-Day series” so it doesn’t get lost in my inbox or spam filter.

Happy Poetry Month!

Featured Poet: Harlan Howe

So if I must be brutally honest, Harlan Howe is not usually (to the best of my knowledge), regularly, a poet. He’s awesome at computers and tech and teaching, but poetry isn’t his main line of work.

We had a Book Spine Poetry at school this month, though, and his entry was really good, and so I wanted to share it with you. Remember, Book Spine Poetry is a relatively easy game that takes very little time to play. If you do it, I really want to know! Send me a .jpg of yours to my email address: forest [dot] of [dot] diamonds [at] gmail [dot] com. Put “Books Spine Poem” in the title, and I’ll feature it on my blog.

Here’s Harlan’s:

 

Harlan's BSP

 

 

And here’s the text of it, in case the picture isn’t clear:

 

the world’s strongest librarian
found
a case of exploding mangoes
in the stacks
No! I don’t want to join a book club

 

 

Book Spine Poetry

You are probably familiar with the concept of Book Spine Poetry by now. It all started, if my research is correct, with Nina Katchadourian’s Sorted Books project over twenty years ago. The basic premise is that you make a little poem out of the titles on the spines of books. I love this form and plan to feature several of them in my National Poetry Month series this year. Here’s one I put together tonight.

 

BSP 4/2/15

 

I don’t normally use more than one book by the same author in a single Book Spine Poem, but tonight it just worked out that way.

 

wicked
witches
drinking coffee elsewhere

four sisters, all queens
shattered souls
lost

happy to be here

 

I’d love for you to share your Book Spine Poetry with me. Consider this your formal invitation to do so! Maybe it will even be included in this series. Please send it to me at forest.of.diamonds@gmail.com with “Book Spine Poem” in the subject line.