Book spine poem: a language evolution special

October 24, 2013

Someone once told me it was harder to make a book spine poem, aka bookmash, from non-fiction titles. I don’t know; I hadn’t really thought about it before, and I’m never conscious of it when constructing them.

But it led me to look at my earlier book spine poems and see what pattern emerged. Fiction/non-fiction ratios (in reverse chronological order) are as follows: 5:5, 7:2, 8:2, 4:4, 2:5, 6:2, 2:4, 4:4, 2:4, 2:4, 2:5, 3:2, 3:4, 4:3, 2:1, 0:4, 1:4, 0:3, 2:2, 4:2, 1:2, 4:4, 7:9.

That’s 75 fiction vs. 81 non-fiction. I was surprised that there were more non-fiction, and that the totals ended up so close. Two are exclusively non-fiction but none contain only fiction. (New challenge!)

I don’t usually set out with a theme in mind, but this time I wanted to make one about language/linguistics, which was always going to skew heavily towards non-fiction: 2:7. Non-fiction surges ahead – for now.

[click to enlarge]

stan carey - book spine poem - bookmash - evolution the difference engine

Evolution: the difference engine

Words words words ad infinitum –
The power of Babel,
The languages of the world.
Human speech: the articulate mammal enigma,
Evolution: the difference engine.

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Thanks to the authors: Diarmaid Ó Muirithe, Nicholas Ostler, John McWhorter, Kenneth Katzner, Richard Paget, Jean Aitchison, Robert Harris, Carl Zimmer, William Gibson and Bruce Sterling; and to artist Nina Katchadourian.

More in the bookmash archive.

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Bookmash 16: Virtual light in the heart of the sea

July 23, 2012

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.

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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.

Updates:

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

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