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.


drinking coffee elsewhere

four sisters, all queens
shattered souls

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 with “Book Spine Poem” in the subject line.

April Poetry Contest: Something REALLY Short…

It’s April again, and that means NATIONAL POETRY MONTH!!  YAY!!!

This year for my April poetry contest, I’m going with something a bit different.  (Well, different for me, but apparently commonplace everywhere else, as a simple Internet search will suggest.)  Have you ever heard about Book Spine Poetry?  Well, that’s the focus of this contest.  Read this Slate article here by David Rosenberg for more information and some stellar examples by Nina Katchadourian.

You have until April 30th, 2013, to compose a short poem or story comprised entirely of the words on the spines of books.  Each composition must be the contest entrant’s own original work.  To enter the contest, email a picture of your entry to me at with the subject line “BOOK SPINE POETRY CONTEST ENTRY.”  (Please do NOT leave your entry here in the comments section, although if you foresee having difficulty emailing your entry to me, you may explain why here in the comments section, and we’ll work it out.)  There is no limit to how many times you may enter, as long as you do so before the end of this month.

For a multitude of glorious examples which I won’t picture here because of copyright issues, check out these images of book spine poetry from Google search.

All entries will be featured here on Sappho’s Torque.  The winner will be selected by a volunteer panel of writers and will receive a t-shirt with a hilarious Emily Dickinson joke on it.

Thank you for playing, and good luck!


Please note:  The deadline for this contest has been extended to Sunday night, May 5th, 2013.  Good luck!