Annette Dauphin Simon first discovered the delights of found verse about a decade ago while working as a bookseller for an independent bookshop in Florida.
Unfinished Business You Are a Beautiful Beginning
One rainy Sunday afternoon, during a lull following a rush of customers, she and a colleague looked at the stacks of books lying in disarray around the store. After laughing at the random arrangement of titles resulting from genres mingling together, they came up with their own game of “rearrangements.”
The Trouble With Poetry Nothing Rhymes with Orange
Science fiction + business. History + mystery. A book from here with a book from there. Creating these collages from other people’s words was so much fun. Since some of their new constructions appeared poem-like, they called them “found verses,” not knowing at the time that it’s a recognized form of writing dating back to the 1920s.
While You Were Napping The Bear Ate Your Sandwich It Wasn't Me Dragons Love Tacos
Well, Annette was hooked. She shared new verses with her colleagues on a regular basis and documented her spine poetry with her camera. She shared her poems on social media and even turned some of them into greeting cards.
Spine poetry soon became an obsession and she’s never tired of the process over the years, finding constant inspiration from bookstores, libraries, and her own shelves.
Now we can all enjoy Annette’s clever centos in her new book, Spine Poems: An Eclectic Collection of Found Verse for Book Lovers (Harper Design, 2022).
This elegantly designed, chunky compendium contains over 100 poems paired with Annette’s full-color photos. Opposite each of the photos you’ll find the printed text as well as some interesting sidenotes – a delicious miscellany of author quotes, fascinating facts, and literary or pop culture tidbits related to the poem’s subject, authors or titles.
Eek! My Heart Is Was Torpedoed Hundred Percent Wonderstruck Didn't See That Coming Restart
The verses range from hilarious two-line quips and truisms, to quirky observations about life and love, to insightful social commentary about the strange times we live in. Bursting with charm and joie de vivre, these friendly, visually appealing collages are accessible and oh-so-relatable, capable of turning skeptics into instant poetry lovers.
Annette has truly mastered the form; it speaks to her many talents not only as a picture book author-illustrator and bookseller, but also as a former advertising creative director.
I Am Jazz Blue Skies Birdsong Saturday Solutions and Other Problems I Am Enough
I like how the poems are presented in categories just as you’d find in a bookstore:
- Fiction (Love & Romance; Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror)
- Nonfiction (Art, Biography & Memoir, Business, Cooking, Home & Garden, Music, Parenting, Philosophy; Politics, History & Current Events; Pop Culture, True Crime)
And as someone who’s crazy about the alphabet, I really love the variety of colors, typefaces and fonts on those spines! I maintain that typefaces have definite personalities, ranging from bold and serious, to casual and endearing, to sassy and sophisticated. Some typefaces prefer to convey a quiet, erudite message, while others are happiest being flowy and playful. All good.
Like My Father Always Said . . . Listen to Your Mother Listen to Your Heart Listen to Your Gut What's for Dinner?
Book design is a fascinating art form. We usually pay the most attention to the front of book covers, so it’s nice to see spines having a moment thanks to Annette.
Oh, and did I mention how much I love the Cooking section? Surely she included it just for me. 🙂
I Want You to Know What I Know for Sure Three Little Words I Heart Cheese
Sanctuary Our Little Kitchen A Place at the Table Licking the Spoon
This little poetic “meal” appeals to all appetites, as it consists of a picture book, a middle grade novel, a young adult novel, and an adult memoir. I loved Our Little Kitchen and A Place at the Table (co-authored by writer friend Laura Shovan), and I’ve been meaning to read Licking the Spoon.
This is the special appeal of spine poems: while you’re feasting on the poem itself, you happily recognize titles you’ve already read and become intrigued by those you haven’t. Now I have tons of new-to-me books to look forward to.
About those sidenotes: for the poem “Sanctuary,” here are a couple to tickle your fancy:
- “May the memory of this moment, here, the glowing impression of the two of us facing each other in this warm, bright place, drinking lovely hot tea, help save him, even a little bit.” ~ Banana Yoshimoto, Kitchen, 1988.
- “And now I have to stop. Because every time I remember this, I have to cry a little by myself. I don’t know why something that made me so happy then feels so sad now. Maybe that is the way it is with the best memories.” ~ Amy Tan, The Kitchen God’s Wife, 1991.
- Spoons have been around since prehistoric times, as natural materials were adapted as eating utensils. The Greek and Latin words for “spoon” come from cochlea, meaning a spiral shell, the Anglo-Saxon word spon means a chip of wood. By the Middle Ages, royalty and other wealthy people used spoons made of precious metals. When pewter became common in the fourteenth century, spoons became affordable to the general population.
I loved both Yoshimoto’s and Tan’s novels, and the spoon is my favorite utensil. Suffice to say, I live for this kind of stuff. See why this book is so much more than meets the eye?
If I had to choose the most visually striking spine poem in the book, it would likely be the green poem, since it’s my favorite color.
Green Green on Green When Green Becomes Tomatoes The Most Beautiful Thing Thank You, Garden
Love how the poem is framed top and bottom with greens and oranges, and those typefaces really speak to me. Smack dab in the middle is, “When Green Becomes Tomatoes” = still one of my fave poetry picture books ever!
A Drop of Hope Enormous Smallness
Spine Poems is, of course, the perfect gift book for bibliophiles, poetry lovers, trivia enthusiasts, and pop art fans. It’s an entertaining feel-good book on so many levels, and Annette’s witty and winsome verses are an open invitation to try fashioning your own. Icing on the cake: this book has the best dedication and afterword. Wait till you see it!
Here’s what Mr Cornelius came up with:
Can Poetry Matter? O Taste and See Eat This Poem In Short Keep It Real
Soup Day Kafka's Soup Chicken Soup, Boots Dumpling Soup Blue Corn Soup Blue Moon Soup Spoon Fed Delicious!
My Favorite Things Cake Pie Cookies Chocolate Chocolate More Than Marmalade Food Born Hungry
Finally, Paddington Bear offered his personal review of the book!
Simon Says Spine Poems Exquisite Spunk and Bite From Cover to Cover Words Under the Words Awakening Intuition A Sense of Wonder Letter Perfect
Only problem we can see: beware, making spine poems is addictive! 🙂
SPINE POEMS: An Eclectic Collection of Found Verse
written and photographed by Annette Dauphin Simon
published by Harper Design, September 2022
Found Poetry Gift Book, 224 pp.
*Includes Selected Bibliography of Books, Websites, Video and Radio
🌮 SPECIAL BOOK GIVEAWAY! 🥪
The publisher is generously providing a brand new copy Spine Poems for one lucky Alphabet Soup reader. For a chance to win, please leave a comment at this post no later than midnight (EDT) Wednesday, October 12, 2022. You may also enter by sending an email with SPINE POEMS in the subject line to: readermail (at) jamakimrattigan (dot) com. Giveaway open to U.S. residents only, please. Good Luck!
🍁 FRIENDLY REMINDER 🎂
Today is the last day to enter these two giveaways:
Lovely and talented Tabatha Yeatts is hosting the Roundup at The Opposite of Indifference. Be sure to check out the full menu of poetic goodness being served up around the blogosphere this week. Goodbye, September, where did you go?
* All spreads from the book: SPINE POEMS by Annette Dauphin Simon. Copyright © 2022 by Annette Dauphin Simon. Reprinted courtesy of Harper Design, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.
**Copyright © 2022 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.