5 August 2016

poetry friday: spine poems.

I've been reading a lot of Wodehouse lately—it seems to be about all I've been able to absorb, and there is after all a great deal to be said for the public domain. I mean to say there's something so civilized about free e-books. It does not, however, do much for my prose style; everything I've been trying to write has come out, when it comes out at all, frightfully Woosterish. This would of course be super if I wanted to write pastiche (and Wodehouse pastiche is a noble end provided you've got something interesting to say in it—see this or this) but under the circs it's rather less of a boon. In fact I've been dissatisfied with the progress of all my writing lately, which is part of the malaise that's driven me to these straits. In light of that I've decided to share some "writing" I'm not entirely displeased with: my spine poetry for the past few weeks.

Spine poetry is one of the three great book title games. The other two are the The Man Who Melted Jack Dann and "books that sound more interesting with the last letter of the title knocked off"; spine poetry is the easiest, and my favorite: it refers to the practice of making piles of books in such a way that the titles form a found poem. It's become a bit of a hobby of mine, though it's only an extension of my previous long-standing hobby of pottering around pulling books off of shelves. When you've got no words of your own, it's a delightful practice to make things out of other people's. I use almost exclusively books I've not read, since I don't want to be over-influenced by what I know of the contents. The only other thing is to note is that I apologize for the photo quality, which is—politely—inconsistent.

A closer walk
through gates of splendor,
through the wilderness of loneliness—
believing God,
waking the dead.

Silver on the tree—
everything is illuminated.
Little women
on wings of eagles:
fantastic voyage.

There is a land
before the fall.
School days,
infinite jest.

About grace?
Ordinary grace?
Sharp objects,
fates & furies,
flood of fire,
a brother's blood—
the culture of fear.

Life after life
among others.
Invisible cities,
fire and hemlock,
a stone for a pillow.
Comfort me with apples.

Here's the roundup.


  1. Very fun always to see the poems created, and further, the books on people's shelves. I love "Little women/On wings of eagles".

  2. Well, if these are truly books you haven't read, then get busy and read everything by Kent Haruf. In order.

    Your spine poems are extraordinary, which speaks of your library, as well as your creative stacking! I also loved the other two book title games. So. Much. Fun.

    1. Well, not all of these are in my own personal library; I make poems wherever I am. Thanks for the recommendation, and I'm glad you liked my stacks!

  3. I love spiney poems! They're so addictive. These are wonderful! I too love the 'Little Women'. But I also love what you've said; 'When you've got no words of your own, it's a delightful practice to make things out of other people's.' Perfect!

  4. PS Love the other games too. We were already planning to do spiney poems as a Book Week activity. Methinks you've just added to that list of things to do... Thanks!

    1. I'm glad to have helped you out, then!

  5. Such a fun way to create! "Comfort me with apples" - best line ever. =)

    1. I haven't read the book, but I understand that it's really good as well.