New books mean a new book spine poem, aka bookmash. This one has a language theme.
[Click to enlarge]
Here’s a self-explanatory bit of silliness from Twitter yesterday. There were requests to assemble it somewhere, for convenience and posterity, so I thought I’d reproduce it on Sentence first.
I’ve replaced the quotation marks I used on Twitter with italics; other than that it’s identical. The tweets are all linked, so you can also read them by clicking on the date of this introductory one:
A is for ARBITRARY: a sound’s tie to meaning.
B is for BACK-FORMED, like dry-clean from dry-cleaning. Read the rest of this entry »
I thought I’d win the spelling bee
And get right to the top,
But I started to spell ‘banana,’
And I didn’t know when to stop.
The poem’s title, ‘Banananananananana’, as well as underlining the joke draws our attention to how unusual a spelling banana is. Once you start the string of alternating a’s and n’s that constitute the bulk of the word, it’s easy to imagine absent-mindedly overshooting the mark, stuck in a groove like Langton’s Ant on its endless highway.
A new book spine poem, aka bookmash, this one a mixture of recent reads and newly acquired to-be-reads. (Click to enlarge the photo.)
Trespass in a Strange Room
Trespass in a strange room –
Criminal shadows, a severed head,
John Brown’s body waiting for an angel,
New bookmash! This one’s a bit conflagrationary.
Bookmashing, for the uninitiated, is when you stack books so the titles on their spines form a poem, or a mini-story, etc. It also has the more transparent name book spine poetry. It’s a fun game – and challenge – for word lovers, and a great excuse to browse your bookshelves. You’ll see them in a new light.
I’ve made several bookmashes over the years, and would do them oftener if most of my books weren’t in storage. Usually there’s no special theme, but some have been explicitly linguistic, e.g. Evolution: the difference engine, Forest of symbols, The web of words, Ambient gestures, and Cat and Mouse Semantics. So today I imposed the restriction of only using books from the ‘language’ shelf:
Unlocking the language
And the madman
Defining the world,
Unlocking the English language –
Is that a fish
In your ear?
Thanks to the authors Simon Winchester, Henry Hitchings, Keith Houston, Robert Burchfield, and David Bellos. (I’ll try to be less gender-skewed next time.)
I got the idea originally from artist Nina Katchadourian, and it has spread to public radio and around the web. Last year a British drama group ran a bookmash competition, and now Jump! Mag (an educational magazine for children) is holding one for young readers.
Millie Slavidou, who set up the contest, has put several bookmashes on her Glossologics blog, which I wrote about last year. Seeing the idea featured in Jump! Mag prompted today’s simple effort, and I look forward to seeing any competition entries they make public. New players are always welcome.