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writing from spines

found (written from nineteen spines on November 17, 2022)

For years, well honestly it’s probably been for a decade or more, I’ve wondered whether I could write from the spines of the books on our shelves. For some reason though, I never actually tried until this month and I can’t really explain why it has taken me so long. 

A couple of weeks ago, I started pulling books down from the shelves, making my choices based on instinct and feeling. And then I began the process of sitting with these spines, to see what, if anything, would come of this ‘writing from spines’ process.

There are nine poems that have been written in this series and found is the first of these poems. 


playing in the randomness of memories
beyond coincidence
& before reading

the vulnerable rustle of language
tracing questions of history —

the invisible, strange loop 
of delights
site-writing the possible

when things fall apart.

(Wednesday, November 30, 2022)

*   *   *

The nine writing from spines poems currently exist as large format photographs.

I’ve also been working on a small bookwork, trying out different formats and layouts, and trying to figure out what feels right for these poems and this project. I’ll post more about my process and/or about the final bookwork, later on. It feels close but sometimes even when I feel like I’m getting close, a piece can be a long ways from done.

(Thursday, January 19, 2023)

I did end up creating an accordion folded bookwork with the writing from spines poems, last month. But I haven’t been able to assemble copies yet, since I can’t find my bookbinding glue, and the shops that I contacted in the city don’t have any in stock. One person wrote back to tell me that they can’t even order any more until winter is behind us, because of course this archival glue can’t be shipped if there’s any chance that it might freeze while in transport. Another opportunity for patience, I suppose. Eventually, copies will be printed and assembled.

(Wednesday, March 1, 2023)

*   *   *

The first few copies of writing from spines have now been assembled.
This image is looking at the accordion folded bookwork from the back cover.

(Friday, March 24, 2023)

2 thoughts on “writing from spines”

  1. Hello Baco! I have been thinking about you, so paid a visit to your creative space. Loved this poem and the process.. it makes me think how if you (anyone) have been looking around for things/ questions/ answers, but eventually those are ‘found’ within or near you..looking forward to the complete bookwork with the complete work! :)

    1. Hi Sukh, so lovely to hear from you. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on ‘writing from spines.’ The process of writing the poems seemed to flow quite naturally (easily?) once I actually decided to jump in and start. So much seemed to surface, and there were moments when I found myself surprised by what made its way to the page. I suppose I shouldn’t have been though, as I know that connecting threads and ideas often surface when I allow myself to be open to the process of just being with something and paying attention to what’s there/here, and yes, to what’s within, as you say.

      I wasn’t looking for any answers with this project, but as often happens when engaging and making work, I find delight in what presents itself or makes itself known (if only partially). Questions, on the other hand, I love … and there always seems to be plenty of those. One of my favourite questions, is simply, “what if?”

      When we were in Vancouver last week, I was able to pick up a bottle of the archival adhesive that I wanted. So this week, I’ve finally been able to start assembling the bookworks, and I got two copies done before I ran out of printer inks.

      I’m going to try to post a couple of photographs of the bookwork, here on my website. It’s always tricky trying to photograph a long accordion folded book but hopefully you’ll get a sense of the piece from the images.

      I hope you’re doing well and that your projects are offering up wonderful questions!

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