Tuesday, August 14, 2012

a break from your regularly scheduled program

Oh wow, have I just discovered a fun game or what!  It has nothing to do with Americans and Australians aside from the fact that it has a lot to do with English ... don't tell me you've never killed an ... unspecified period of time ... creating book spine poetry!

I just found out about it this morning (I know.  It's taken me absolute ages to get around to actually concocting something.  Slack Kimmy.) and am absolutely thrilled, though I'm realizing it's harder than I anticipated for several reasons.

First, you can only work with the books that you've currently got access to.  No fair going off to find To Kill a Mockingbird or Looking for Godot or I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings just to get a verb in there somewhere.  (Really, it's amazing how few books have verbs in their titles.  One of those things you rarely think about until you go trying to write poetry with them.)

Second, you can only work with the book that you're willing to admit you've got access to.  Sure, you might have a copy of The Baby Who Saved Doctor Cynical, but do you really want anyone to know?  (A gift!  It was a gift!)

Third, you can only work with the books that you're currently supposed to have access to.  It turns out that an entire shelf of mine is filled only with borrowed books.  (It's a long story.  I got sucked in The Wheel of Time just at the same time like four different friends all lent me a handful of books and now I can't read any of them until I finish the Wheel of Time because there's so many characters if I put it down I'll never be able to remember which of the Forsaken has actually been killed with balefire yet, let alone which is Mesaana skulking around under a different name or even the Daughter of the Seven Moons is so important.  See what I mean?)  Thus:  if you see a book here that is yours, I know it is yours and I will get it back to you.  Let me know if you need it before the next ... three years are up.  Aw, make it two.  I want to be done before I'm 30.

Fourth, I just have to throw a whole bunch more caveats out before you judge me too harshly:  the collection of books I have here is exceptionally motley.  I have good taste, really I do (come on, I like Hardy and Shakespeare and the last third of most Dickens), but here I'm surviving solely on a staple diet of borrowed and gee-I'm-moving-what-should-I-do-with-all-these-oh-I'll-give-them-to-Kim books.  And, obviously, The Wheel of Time series, but that one (tricky little graphic designers) puts all their titles vertically instead of horizontally on the spines so they don't lend themselves quite as easily to book spine poetry, though, trust me, if I'd been desperate for A Path of Daggers or Lord of Chaos, I've got them on hand.

The next caveat is that, gosh, this is still all a lot harder than it first appeared.  I think I was spoiled to get to see a really good version first on the Daily Vowel Movements blog, but, well, my excuse is that I lent my children's books (all 4 of them here ...) to my 8-year-old tutoree and he's taken them away on vacation.

Okay, so anyway, I had a whole lot of fun making a whole lot of mess (that's another thing:  had to get the camera angle right so there was no stray laundry making an unfortunate appearance ...) to find that, really, either I'm not that good at this or (this is what I personally am going with) I've just got a bizarre selection at books at present and if I spent as much time trying to write the silly thing as I did blogging about, it would've been way better.  And anyway, maybe I can try again tomorrow night.  I've got a couple titles that are just dying to be used.  How I Paid for College, for example.  Or Boogaloo on 2nd Avenue.  Crying out!  (Oh, and one more thing:  haven't actually read all the books.  Again, don't judge me too harshly if they're trash.)

A Short History of Nearly Everything:
The Shepherd, the Angel
and Walter the Christmas Miracle Dog
Just Walk Across the Room.
Attack of the Theater People!
Down Under.

Incidentally, how well does Down Under work as the end of pretty much anything?  Like throwing "in bed" at the end of every Chinese fortune cookie fortune?
Anyway, hope you enjoyed the poem.  Down under.


Andrew said...

Totally agree. It seems easy, but it took me ages to come up with my one. I love the dilemma about what books to use and the problems of admitting you have or have borrowed certain books. In the end the fact that you included two Bill Bryson is a big plus in my view.

KIM said...

Thanks! I know, half the fun is showcasing your collection ... and I do love Bill Bryson. Dave Barry (the Miracle Dog one) is pretty funny, too -- he at least used to be a humor column writer for the Miami Herald. Haven't actually read the others, though I suspect they're aimed at rather different audiences.

KIM said...

Oh, and thanks for giving me the idea in the first place! It seems my relatives are more interested in sharing your poem on facebook than mine (traitors!).