Book Spine Poetry
May 4, 2012 10:03 PM   Subscribe

Book Spine Poetry is poetry made from the words on the spines of books.
posted by roaring beast (6 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
This inspired me to go to the nearest bookcase to see if I had any accidental/fortuitous book spine poetry happening in there, and didn't really find that much. Well, maybe a couple of beginnings: "Up in the Old Hotel" sits next to "House of Leaves," for example, and "The House of Sleep" is next to "Far From the Madding Crowd," while "Significant Others" and "Birds with Broken Wings" are neighbors. I couldn't find any three volumes that seemed to collectively be saying anything deep. "Dance, Dance, Dance" is totally wasted between a Harry Potter book and "The Glass Bead Game," and "Fighting Words" is likewise frittered away between Mougham "Best Short Stories" and "Mount Olive."

What I did discover is that somehow a number of these books seem to have formed attachments of their own, apparently for their own satisfaction. For instance, I discovered "Perfume" and "Jitterbug Perfume" hanging out together (I guess it makes sense to them), Paul Auster and Jane Austen next to each other being snobby in their little exclusive club of authors who begin with A-U-S-T-E (this had nothing to do with me; I've never, ever organized my books at all). I also saw "My Family and Other Animals" snuggled up to "Raise High The Roofbeam, Carpenters." I think they're besties who never stop gossiping about their siblings.

Typically, I guess, William Gibson and Neal Stephenson are huddling with Frank Herbert, and alpha male China Miéville is straddled over top the three of them (those guys really need to get out more). I really have no idea why Gertrude Stein and Ian Rankin are tête-à-tête, though.

I'll have to check out the rest of the bookcases to see what other unholy alliances have been forged.
posted by taz at 11:02 PM on May 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

Indeed, most poetry begins at the spine.

From there, the poetic impulse travels upward to the cerebellum, which is responsible for determining if there is a genuine poetic message, or if the signals are merely random body noise. After passing through the cerebellum, all forms of poetry are mediated by the lower anterior portion of the temporal lobe, which checks for basic rhythmic and rhyming structures. The poetry is then passed on to the parietal lobe, which begins a semantic analysis of metaphorical possibilities. The best and brightest of these are kicked over to the occipital lobe, which imagines the possibilities. After this, the frontal lobe may or may not initiate impulses back to the effector musculature, possibly resulting in an utterance such as "wow".
posted by twoleftfeet at 12:51 AM on May 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


For those hungry for more, there's a similar project by Nina Katchadourian , which I learned about here.
posted by eotvos at 1:07 AM on May 5, 2012 [4 favorites]

I love that, eotvos.
posted by taz at 1:23 AM on May 5, 2012

If you dig this sorta thing, I highly recommend Italo Calvino's If on a Winter's Night a Traveler.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 7:26 AM on May 5, 2012

I started doing these a couple of years ago after coming across Nina Katchadourian's Sorted Books project.
It's terrific fun – though the results aren't always particularly poetic.
posted by Stan Carey at 12:37 AM on May 16, 2012

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