Collage Tip #10: Coffee Table Collage

I’d like to invite you to shake up your collaging by thinking outside the box. Collaging doesn’t necessarily have to involve papers, scissors and glue. You can expand your collage repertoire by layering all kinds of materials. Today I propose we collage with books! Fiction or non-fiction. It doesn’t matter; the only tools you’ll need are your hands and your imagination. Beware: this recycle-friendly art form will have you reconsidering that used book pile you were thinking of giving away!

I got this “spine-tingling” idea from my friend Peter Farris-Manning who informed me of an interesting project his daughter was assigned in English class. She was asked to make and display poetry using books – book spines to be exact! This reminded me of the found poetry texts I collaged into my journals. Except this was better, instead of having them hidden away in a journal, my poetic musings would be displayed for all to see on my shelves or coffee table – my guests would be amazed!

This week, after I downloaded a helpful video by Kaite Mediatore Stover of the Kansas City Public Library on how to create book spine poetry, I was raring to go! Kevin and I are great book collectors, so I confined myself to using one book shelf to create my poems. In less than half an hour, I devised three poems and was quite pleased with myself. The next morning I got up, wandered into my living room, looked at the books on my coffee table, added a few more and came up with another! As I paused to wonder, half way through my day, what other marvellous masterpieces I could stack up, I realized I was becoming an addict! Don’t be surprised if you do too!

How to Create Your Own Book Spine Poetry:

1. Gather three to five books. (Anymore and your pile might topple over!);
2. Lay your books sideways so you can read the spines/titles*;
3. Stack from top to bottom; use titles that create interesting imagery/thoughts;
4. If you’d like to title your poem, add another book to the top of your book pile; and
5. Volià!!! – Your very own poem!

* Note: When reading you can ignore the author’s name.

You don’t have to be a great poet to create interesting and funny poetry pieces. But I’ll bet if you are a poet, your book spine poetry will sing! I could see people getting really obsessed with this and buying all kinds of used books for this project. In fact, I can envision a whole show curated around this art form.  

So now you know the secret to creating book spine poetry, I dare you to give it a try! And, please do inform me of your exploits! Here are a few of mine for inspiration…

Example One Book Spine Poetry (June 2012)

Example One Book Spine Poetry (June 2012)

The Five People You Meet in Heaven
The Alchemist
The Man Who Melted
The Monk
The Queen of the Damned

Example Two Book Spine Poetry (June 2012)

Example Two Book Spine Poetry (June 2012)

The Book of Secrets
Ask and it is Given
Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures
The Art of Happiness in a Troubled World

Example Three Book Spine Poetry (June 2012)

Example Three Book Spine Poetry (June 2012)

Governor of the Northern Province
The Interpreter of Silences
Reading Jazz
Running with Scissors
Loving What Is

Other Related Links:
100 Scope Notes: Book Spine Gallery
Ku Leuven’s Faculty Stars Book Spine Poetry Game

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