Have you ever heard of ‘book spine poetry’? It is a form of “found” poetry; that is to say, poems formed of words from other sources, in this case book spines. Simply arrange a set of books, in a stack, so that their titles to create a poem. Of sorts. See some examples here.
And below is my own attempt at a romantic ‘spine poem’, with books taken from nearby shelves:
Well, if you live here in the UK, you’ll have seen the story of our Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s recent visit to a school in the city of Leicester, in the wake of a totally chaotic process, led by the Government, to award 16- and 18-year old school-children this year’s final, high-stakes, school-leaving grades (in lieu of Covid-cancelled exams).
Numerous observers were quick to notice that arranged on shelves behind the Prime Minister (PM) as he addressed the class, their covers facing outwards, were books that included titles such as The Resistance; The Twits; Betrayed; and The Subtle Knife, in addition to dystopian titles (or at least books about dystopian societies) such as Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, Neal Shusterman’s The Toll, and Terry Pratchett’s Guards! Guards!. As others have opined, it is hard not to conclude that someone (a teacher? The school librarian?) was intent on communicating a clear message – whether a warning, a call to arms, or a statement on our leader, the exams snafu, the government in general, or even the entire state of the nation.
Truly, there is no wrong way to arrange these titles into a piece of spine poetry. A simple narrative poem may read, for instance:
The Subtle Knife
I don’t want to make a major political comment here, but having just lived through the recent exam mess-up in our household, first-hand, I hope the book choices were no accident… And I am quietly cheering on whichever teacher or librarian was responsible.
Amy Gibbons Has a savvy school librarian or English teacher snatched a golden opportunity to have a pop at the PM in front of the nation? In the Times Educational Supplement, 26 August 2020.
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