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writing from spines

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 30th, 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 19th, 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 1st, 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 24th, 2023)

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