Book spine poem: When the Lights Go Down

I almost forgot how much fun it is to make book spine poems. My last one was about a year ago (and led to an interview at the OED), so it’s about time I did another. This one tells a miniature story.


When the Lights Go Down

Stranger on a train, heading inland,

Civilwarland in bad decline.

Autumn-dark voyage,

The light of evening,

The signal and the noise.

One shot without conscience

when the lights go down:

Death in a white tie, a brilliant void.

Reader, I murdered him.


A vertical stack of books, with their spines facing the viewer and forming a found poem


Thanks to the authors and editors: Jenny Diski, Nicola Barker, George Saunders, Ali Smith, Alan Furst, Edna O’Brien, Nate Silver, Lee Child, Robert Hare, Pauline Kael, Ngaio Marsh, Jack Fennell, and Jen Green; and to artist Nina Katchadourian.

Previously featured: Diski in ‘Antarctica’; Barker in ‘Microworlds’ and ‘Inside Outer’ (and a post on reading coincidences); Smith in posts on compulsive pedantry and mutual unintelligibility; Furst in ‘After the Fire’ and a post on a significant hyphen; O’Brien in various places; and A Brilliant Void in a recent exploration of the Irish suffix –­een.

See the archive for more book spine poems, and join in if you like!



4 Responses to Book spine poem: When the Lights Go Down

  1. I LOVE it! Brilliant.

  2. Cornelia Bayley says:


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