Bookmash 16: Virtual light in the heart of the sea

Virtual light in the heart of the sea

Virtual light
In the heart of the sea
The waves breaking
The spell, the crossing
The ever-present origin
Atomised, reborn.



More of these, and links to other people’s, in the bookmash archive. Feel free to join in.

Thanks to the authors: William Gibson, Nathaniel Philbrick, Virginia Woolf, Daniel Dennett, Cormac McCarthy, Jean Gebser, Michel Houellebecq, and Susan Sontag. Idea borrowed from ‘Sorted Books’ by Nina Katchdourian.

Cross-posted on Tumblr.


Chelsea at Parole Passport has just posted ‘The Silent World’, her first bookmash.

Julienne, who blogs at nephithyrion, has created two lovely examples.

19 Responses to Bookmash 16: Virtual light in the heart of the sea

  1. Stan says:

    Thanks, Shaun! Most of these are recent additions to the bookshelf.

  2. Love book spine poetry. This is a particularly fine example.

  3. Sile Nic Chonaonaigh says:

    This I love. (Is there anything as full of potential as another person’s bookshelf?)

  4. Stan says:

    Tricia: Thank you. I had fun arranging it.

    Síle: Only one’s own, if enough of its books have yet to be read.

  5. alexmccrae1546 says:


    For me, these ‘bookmashes’ are a true delight. But frankly, they can still be a bit of a challenge.

    One would hopefully want to maintain a semblance of narrative flow that makes a modicum of sense, and retain a kind of coherent thematic continuity, yet still managed to leave a lot to the individual readers’ fertile imaginations, in the reading.

    My offering, here, is kind of an ad hoc ode to nature, particularly our fine- feather-friends, w/ a parting shout out to a fish; in this case a marvelous expanded essay by the prolific non-fiction scribe, John McPhee, on the American shad, his “Founding Fish” from the cover.


    “Bird by Bird”

    The unexplained
    Private lives of garden birds
    bird by bird
    Defiant spirits
    Between the bridge and the river
    The founding fish
    I remember

    Here’s a top-to-bottom synopsis of each book in the stack:

    “The Unexplained” is a rather dated little book from the late ’60s by a former Canadian evangelical preacher-turned writer, the late Allan Spraggett. The book explores the paranormal, particularly the then-controversial phenomenon of ESP.

    “Private Lives of Garden Birds” by Calvin Simonds is fairly self-explanatory.

    “bird by bird” by Anne Lamott is kind of an exploration of Lamott’s personal journey as a writer, w/ great, constructive incite into the writer’s process, and craft.

    “Defiant Spirits” by Ross King is a rather hefty tome in more ways than one. It offers a comprehensive history of The Group of Seven, a small coterie of very talented Canadian pleine air painters who chronologically straddled the late 19th to the mid- 20th century; and through their unique painterly ‘impressions’ of the wild, and untamed Canadian landscape unwittingly thrust Canada into the forefront of the global Modernist art movement.

    “Between the Bridge and the River” by Glasgow-born-and-raised standup comedian/ actor/ CBS late-night TV talk show host, Craig Ferguson, is a gripping tale very much rooted in his own hardscrabble upbringing in the gritty Glasgow inner city environs. A brilliant first novel.

    “The Founding Fish” by John McPhee (see earlier description, above)

    “I Remember” by Dan Rather. This is an early 1990’s-published memoir by the veteran, former celebrated longtime CBS TV newsman/ reporter/ anchorman. Recently, Rather released another self-penned book, basically defending his actions on the CBS weekly news-magazine show “60 Minutes”, where he produced a controversial investigative piece trying to show how former President George W. Bush, as a young man, may have weaseled out of serving, militarily, in Vietnam (?), thru preferential treatment, or just plain dereliction of duty.

    Stan, I’ll try to e-mail you a photo of my ‘stack’, ASAP, and hopefully you can post it w/ my comments, at some point. Always nice to have an accompanying visual.


  6. alexmccrae1546 says:

    Okay, Stan, I must be a glutton for punishment.

    Here’s another short-stack of titles that has a decidedly more down-beat air about it than my previous effort.

    For what it’s worth, here she blows:

    King Leopold’s ghost
    Negotiating with the dead
    What’s bred in the bone
    Crazy loco love
    Love in the time of cholera
    Waves and plagues
    The ruins of time


    Glossary of book titles as follows:

    “Disgrace” by South African writer J.M. Coetzee.

    “King Leopold’s Ghost’ by Adam Hochschild.

    “Negotiating with the Dead” by prolific award-winning Canadian author, Margaret Atwood.

    “What’s Bred in the Bone” by the late Canadian writer, Robertson Davies.

    “Crazy Loco Love” by Mexican-American writer Victor Villasenõr.

    “Love in the Time of Cholera” by Pulitzer Prize winning author Gabriel Garcia Màrquez.

    “Waves and Plagues”—- A catalogue of watercolor paintings by Japanese-American artist, Masami Teraoka, mostly addressing the world-wide HIV/ AIDS scourge of the ’90s.

    “The Ruins of Time” by David Grant Adamson.

    Stan, I’ll send you an e-mail photo of this current stack of titles, shortly.

  7. Stan says:

    Alex: They can be a challenge, certainly, but if they were too easy they wouldn’t be so much fun. Narrative flow isn’t always possible or even desirable, but a degree of thematic continuity, as you nicely put it, is usually to the good.

    Thanks very much for your contributions: I love your ode to nature, and I like the figures you’ve placed on top of each poem. Here they are:

  8. alexmccrae1546 says:


    Is three times really a (lucky) charm, as the old adage goes? (Better ask a leprechaun, I guess.)

    Alas, since none-too-many of your loyal readers are stepping up to the plate w/ their ‘bookmash’ offerings, I figured one more go from this unrepentant bibliophile couldn’t hurt.

    So here goes ‘bookmash’ numero trois— a little bit of an homage to carnality, and homo sapiens erotic impulses, perhaps:
    A fine disregard
    For whom the bell tolls
    The cradle of erotica
    The indian cult of ecstasy
    Title author credits, as follows:

    “A Fine Disregard” by Kirk Varnedoe
    “For Whom the Bell Tolls” by Ernet Hemingway
    “The Cradle of Erotica’ by Allen Edwards & R.E. L. Masters
    “Nexus”, Plexus” & “Sexus” by Henry Miller
    “Tantra/ The Indian Cult of Ecstasy” by Philip Rawson

    Stan, you may have noticed in the photo I’m sending along, forthwith, that both my ‘Cradle of Erotica’ paperback and the thin ‘Tantra’ soft-cover volume seem a tad disheveled, and shop-warn. Chalk that up to loaning these two books out to erotically curious friends, who apparently really got into these rather titillating works….. if you get my drift. Hmm…… true confession….. I may have contributed, some, to their dog-eared appearance as well. (Am I blushing yet?)

    Anyway, I think I’m finally book-mashed out. It’s been fun.

    P.S.: —Will send pic, shortly. It’s pretty late, time-wise, in Ireland at the moment, I surmise. You’ll get it when you get it, I suppose.

  9. Stan says:

    Your “unrepentant bibliophilia” and enthusiasm for bookmashing do you credit. It has been fun receiving the fruits of your wordplay. Here’s number three.

  10. I tend to stick with the 3 line version of book spine poems. I’m a computer dummy so waiting for a friend to show me how to download the photos but here’s one I compiled last Mother’s Day.

    Sailing Alone Around The Room
    Longing for My Child
    eating fire

    Sailing Alone Around The Room – Billy Collins selected poems
    Longing for My Child – Grief reflections by Christine Lafser
    eating fire – Margaret Atwood selected poetry 1965-1995

  11. Cyranette says:

    Hi Stan. I have nominated you for the Illuminating Blogger Award. I love your devotion to words and books. If you choose to accept this award, the details are on my blog. :-)

  12. alexmccrae1546 says:


    I really liked your shortish, three-line ‘mash’.

    For me, It immediately conjured up some pretty wild imagery. Being a visual artist, I almost automatically translate words into mind-pictures.

    Sounds like you favor a more spare, haiku-esque approach to this fun, ‘poetic’ exercise— a three-to-four book-title maximum, perhaps?

    (Thanks for the “Eating Fire” by Margaret Atwood inclusion. As a recovering Canadian chauvinist (HA!), I’m always waxing rhapsodic over great Canadian men-and-women of letters; and Atwood is right up there on my highest-touted list. Wasn’t familiar w/ the title,”Eating Fire”. I’ll have to check that one out, for sure. Have you read much of Canuck veteran short-story author, Alice Munro?)

    Well, if this ‘bookmashing’ is, indeed, a form of composing poetry, I dare say it would technically fall within the realm of free, or open verse. Frankly, it would be a real test to come up w/ rhyming couplets, and such, in the arrangement of selected book titles.

    @Cyranette. I second your nomination of blogmeister Stan for this award. Unarguably, he is a most illuminating, guiding light in the sheer vastness of the murky blogosphere. IMHO, his abiding passion for words and books always shines through in his intelligent online musings, and further, in his thoughtful, eloquent, constructive, always-civil responses to his grateful and engaged bloggers. Plus he has a great, self-effacing sense of humor, to boot.

  13. Stan says:

    Tricia: Thank you for sharing the bookmash you made. I find the length can vary quite a lot, from two to double figures.

    Cyranette: I am honoured! Thanks very much.

    Alex: You’re far too generous, but thank you. Rhyming bookmashes can be tricky, but I have a couple in the archive: ‘Making love, getting busted’ and ‘Time, love and summer’.

  14. […] in passing in a post about barking animals. I try not to reuse titles, but Sontag’s was in ‘Virtual light in the heart of the sea’, which is one of the few I’m satisfied […]

  15. I LOVE these creations of yours. How did they first come into being?

  16. […] The Crossing featured in a book spine poem I made some years ago – one of few I’m happy […]

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