I interviewed Tracy Guzeman author of The Gravity of Birds for the WNBA-SF. What I couldn’t fit into that interview was this interesting idea of creating poetry using the spines of books. Since I had an abundance of books, I looked up the idea which was started by Nina Katchadourian, a professional artist, started a project called Sorted Books in 1993. Nina worked with client’s bookshelves and created works that were surprising and reflective of the clients themselves.
Tracy explained she just works with what she discovers on her own shelves:
My own introduction to spine poetry had more to do with the haphazard way I organize my bookshelves than anything else. I noticed W.S. Merwin’s Migration sitting on top of Bernhard Schlink’s Flights of Love, and a book or two away were Howard Norman’s The Bird Artist and Louise Erdrich’s The Plague of Doves. It was a moment when I realized two things: one, I have lots of books somehow related to birds; and two, I could rearrange my bookshelves to see what I might be able to come up with in the way of “title verse.” It’s an enjoyable way to procrastinate. I’ve almost been able to convince myself I’m taking a break from writing to do something equally artistic. Almost.
I did it a bit and this is what I came up with:
On the road
The good solider
Beat down to their soul
Breaking the rules
Naked, drunk and writing