Book spine poetry and PMs

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:

Okay, not high art – but it took seconds to create…

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 GuardsGuards!. 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 Twits
The Resistance
The Subtle Knife
The Toll

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.

Main Image Start Digital on Unsplash

11 thoughts on “Book spine poetry and PMs

  1. Seems very likely that the books on display were placed there purposely. They certainly made some points.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This could spark a new national game – think of book titles that sum up our glorious leader (only keep it clean).

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I enjoyed the Toll, and the two books before that 😉
    I’ve been reading about those messed up grades everywhere.I can’t believe they’re not going to change it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. They did reverse the decision and decided to trust the teachers’ grades. If there’s one thing you can rely on our government for right now it’s reversing a decision!


  3. Fun! I donated most of my books when I moved, but I could still do this via Goodreads 🙂


  4. I have never heard of this. Clever that


  5. This is such a great example of a silent protest.


  6. There will always be someone out there who will “see” a hidden message in everything. Whether that was done on purpose or not, I am glad to see it inspired you. A very neat idea! I like.


  7. Wow I missed this story, that teacher is a star!!!! 😀


  8. That is absolutely fab! Loved both.
    Your spine poeetry
    and the teacher’s right in Boris Judas Johnson’ back. (Though he probably can’t read anyway…)
    I’ll give it a shot. Let chance write. Take a section of a shelf. See how it works…
    Thank you so much Libre.


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