Book spine poem: The Accidental Grammar

Every so often I make a poem by stacking books on top of one another so their titles line up felicitously. I call them book spine poems, or bookmashes for short. Here’s a new one.


The Accidental Grammar

Voices in stone
breaking the rock:
the accidental grammar,
the loom of language,
the awakening of intelligence,
the mind’s eye reborn –
Renegade presence,
gifts of unknown things.


stan carey book spine poem - the accidental grammar


Some of these are recent additions to the bookshelf; a few are old favourites. There’s a strong bias towards non-fiction here, with Ali Smith’s the only novel. In 2013 I found a close ratio of fiction to non-fiction in my bookmashes, but I’ll have to review the figures, maybe when I’ve done 40 or 50 (we’re at 37 now).

Thanks to the featured authors and editors: Ernst Doblhofer, Jolene Babyak, Ali Smith, Frank Palmer, Frederick Bodmer, Jiddu Krishnamurti, Douglas Hofstadter & Daniel Dennett, Susan Sontag, Mark E. Smith, Patsy Rodenburg, and Lyall Watson.

Most are debutants on Sentence first, though Palmer, Dennett, Sontag and Hofstadter have had cameos before and Lyall Watson appeared 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 with.

For earlier book spine poems, including links to other people’s, you can browse the archive here.


20 Responses to Book spine poem: The Accidental Grammar

  1. megaton says:

    Novel idea

  2. Lisa says:

    This is the best poem yet!

  3. Well done! I wonder if the dadaists ever used this – er – compositional technique.

  4. astraya says:

    When I saw the title I thought there was a book called ‘The accidental grammar’ and I wanted to know what it was about.

  5. The Mind’s I…or The Mind’s Eye…
    Love the mash, most excellent.

  6. tiresomemoi says:

    “Gifts of unknown things” is a poem in itself.

  7. Lady Demelza says:

    This one is my favourite so far.

  8. […] The Accidental Grammar, Unlocking the Language, The Name of the World, Evolution: The Difference Engine, Forest of Symbols […]

  9. […] Smith’s earlier novel The Accidental has appeared on Sentence first in a book spine poem, ‘The Accidental Grammar’, and in a medley post about contagious laughter, metaphors, and other […]

  10. […] of these books and authors have featured before. You can browse the full archive of book spine poems, which […]

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