Staff Book Spine Poetry

Be brief, be buoyant, and be brilliant.

– Brander Matthews, American Poet

What started out as an antidote for not being able to gather for a social event in 2020, has now become a tradition in 2021! Spine poetry (compiling a piece of poetry through stacking books) is a great way to flex your creative muscles, and perhaps even discover some forgotten favorites. Taking inspiration from our own bookshelves, some of our staff writers have created some beautiful and inspiring works of visual and literary art. Enjoy!


Sharon, Editor-in-Chief

Where'd you go, Sharon
this one summer
a woman alone
Paris postcards

Ever since I have had to hunker down at home, I have been dreaming of the day that I can take off on an adventure. I looked for travel inspiration on my bookshelf and found quite a few titles that would work (apparently wanderlust is part of my genetic makeup). These titles in particular I found to be engaging, and got me daydreaming about a summer all alone in Paris, writing postcards back home as I people watch from the park, or a cafe. Here’s to all the wanderers out there—may we have the opportunity to adventure soon!


Jade, Managing Editor

A Brief History of Time:
Wild embers, a thousand splendid suns,
turtles all the way down.
Outliers, chasers of the light:
Decoding the world.

This book spine poem was largely influenced by the first book in the list, Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time. The rest of the poem became a bit of an ode to science and discovery, as well as some of the elusive mysteries of the universe. It’s also a love letter to scientists and discoverers, the eccentric thinkers whom we have to thank for so many of today’s inventions and theories.


Roxanne, Communications Coordinator

The Fault in Our Stars,
Envy
The Innocent -
We were liars,
dangerous girls
in all the bright places 

My inspiration behind this book spine poem came from staring at my bookshelf looking for inspiration. I stumbled on The Fault in our Stars and decided to look for books that could be descriptions of what those faults are that could then end with All the Bright Places. This resulted in me frantically grabbing the rest of these books and stacking them in various ways until I decided this order fit really well. I really like the variety in the book genre and am happy with how it turned out!


Paul, Staff Writer

The deep shadows beneath grass:
Invisible cities,
Tender stories of your life and others.

This is a poem about ants. My favorite author, Ursula K. Le Guin, once wrote a science fiction story about future linguists who learn to translate the literature of animals. It is titled “The Author of the Acacia Seeds. And Other Extracts from the Journal of the Association of Therolinguistics,” and contains poetry written by an anarchist ant (quite a rarity in ant society).

Another of my favorite writers, Ada Palmer, wrote of ants in her book Seven Surrenders: “Humanity is forever boasting of its ‘unique’ achievements: humans are the only creatures who build cities, use agriculture, domesticate animals, have nations and alliances, practice slavery, make war, make peace; these wonders make us stand alone above all other creatures, in glory and in crime [. . .] Except ants.”


Rikki, Staff Writer

Living A Feminist Life,
this is an uprising,
emotional intelligence,
ethical slut,
period power!
When We Fight We Win.

I created this book spine poem from a feminist orientation using books from multiple genres. Taking inspiration from Ahmed’s book Living a Feminist Life —as well as using it as a first line in the book spine poem—I wanted to highlight some of what radical and intersectional feminism creates or privileges as possibilities and strengths of the movement. What’s political is also personal and what’s personal is also political, including our emotional states, our sexual expression, and our acts of/for social change: “when we fight, we win!” 


Hopefully, our art has inspired you to create your own!

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