It’s almost a year since my last book spine poem. Here’s a new one.
Return from the Stars
Return from the Stars,
A portable cosmos –
Island home buried in
The sky, the island of ghosts,
The uninhabitable Earth,
Kindred love, again,
Touching from a distance
The stars my destination.
Thank you to the authors: Stanisław Lem, Alexander Jones, Peter Zuckerman and Amanda Padoan, Eilís Dillon, David Wallace-Wells, Rebecca Wragg Sykes, Doris Lessing, Deborah Curtis, Catrina Davies, and Alfred Bester; and to Nina Katchadourian.
Lem has appeared here before, including in a previous book spine poem. Doris Lessing featured in one too. Eilís Dillon wrote a phrase (‘Wasn’t it herself told me’) that inspired my long essay on Irish English dialect. Kindred is one I read recently and liked a lot; this short Twitter thread includes an excerpt on Neanderthal storytelling.
‘Return from the Stars’ is book spine poem #48 for me. In the interests of round-number satisfaction I’ll try to make it 50 next year. You can see the others in my bookmash archive.
The poem is ruined if you use the original British title of Bester’s book, Tiger, Tiger – which is ironic, because, of coure, that title came from a poem …
That’s true. If I had a copy with the alternative title, I’d try to use it in its own book spine poem. (My favourite poem about a tiger, though, is Nael’s.)
This is the best I could do:
TIGER TIGER (Alfred Bester)
BURNING BRIGHT (Tracy Chevalier)
IN THE SHADOWS (Michael Ashcroft)
NIGHT (Elie Wiesel)
WHAT IMMORTAL HAND (Johnny Worthen)
Nice! Post a photo next time. Burning Bright, incidentally, is also the name of a fun little suspense-thriller (which, yes, features a tiger).
You are amazing!!!❤️
Thank you! Glad you liked this starry-themed one.
Wonderful! Inspired to try this again.
I’m happy to hear this!
I like Lem. I was first introduced to him in a Polish lit class. I’ve read Solaris more than once (and was sad to hear the author disapproved of the latest movie adaptation, feeling that the ending wasn’t as Hollywood-y as he seemed to think).
Also, I’m in a poetry group, and now you’ve got me thinking about book spine poems as a format our members could play with.
Thanks for this one.
My pleasure. I imagine a poetry group could take the idea in interesting directions.
I’m still making my way gradually through Lem’s work: 14 so far, but many remain elusive or have not been translated into English. I’d like to reread Solaris one day. Tarkovsky’s film was my introduction to Lem, and I still greatly prefer it to the other two film adaptations.
Soderbergh’s version was a bit glossy and actorly for me, and it didn’t feel strange enough, aside from a couple of uncanny moments. And Lem was hard to please! But there are plenty of things I like about it too, such as Cliff Martinez’s musical score:
That soundtrack was awesome. I need to see Tarkovsky’s version sometime. There’s a third? Will have to check that out too.
Some find Tarkovsky’s film boring and austere, but I think it creates an engrossing mood. It’s slow, but that’s part of the deal. The third film was the first, chronologically: a Russian TV movie from 1968. I wouldn’t rush to see it, but it’s not without features of interest. EOFFTV has a good review.