Book Spine Poetry

The idea behind book spine poetry is that the books on our shelves tell unspoken stories and share quiet little trysts, riddles and paradoxes we may never see. This fun form was inspired by artist, Nina Katchadourian's Sorted Books Project, which began in 1993. For the project, she grouped books from libraries, bookstores and specialized collections to create poems from stacked titles.Book spine poems can be intentional or unintentional, often writing themselves (whether we see them or not)! :)

The Beauty of Listening poetry collection includes a poem about the fun of book spine and other “found” poetry called, Poetry on the Shelf. Here it is, along with a few book spine poetry photos…


By Linda Eve Diamond

Not content to be confined, poetry cascades and climbs
like ivy on the bookshelves growing wild.

Look at separate titles—then change your gaze.
You never know what stories will unfold
as books come and go and what roads
they may take along the way…

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The art of racing in the rain
To the lighthouse
Seeking the heart of wisdom
The mastery of love…
For the time being
Blessing the boats
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When you stack old books to donate,
do your books give you away?

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Who am I?
Open secret
I know why the caged bird sings

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Here’s an old joke with a twist of sublime,
unwittingly told by Silverstein, Carson
White Eagle, Catchcart and Klein…

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Where the sidewalk ends
Plato and a platypus walk into a bar…
Glass, Irony and God
Spiritual unfoldment
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Poetry doesn’t sit still on the shelf.
Alive and wild, it writes itself.

©2013 Linda Eve Diamond, The Beauty of Listening

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Here are images of the three book stacks in "Poetry on the Shelf":

The art of racing in the rain…

Racing in the rain

Featured Books:
The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein, To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf, Seeking the Heart of Wisdom by Joseph Goldstein and Jack Kornfield, The Mastery of Love by Miguel Ruiz, For the Time Being by Annie Dillard, Waiting by Ha Jin, Listening by Jean Luc Nancy and Blessing the Boats by Lucille Clifton


When old books give you away…

Book Spine Poem 2

Who am I?
Open secret.
I know why the caged bird sings.

Featured Books: Who Am I? by Jean Klein, Open Secret Poetry on Rumi compiled and edited by John Moyne and Coleman Barks, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

An old joke with a twist of sublime…

Book Spine Poem - Linda Eve Diamond copy

Where the sidewalk ends
Plato and a platypus walk into a bar…
Glass, Irony and God
Spiritual Unfoldment

Featured Books: Where the Sidewalk Ends by Plato and a Platypus Walk Into a Bar, by Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein, Glass, Irony and God by Anne Carson, and Spiritual Unfoldment by White Eagle

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Here are a few more book spine poems…

This one includes my Rule #1: Stop Talking guide to listening, Kay Lindahl's Sacred Art of Listening, and a special gift from Mira Prabhu. This image won a Forbes Library book spine poetry contest in celebration of National Poetry Month in 2013… :)


A Guide to Listening - Diamond

How to practice
The way to a meaningful life
The sacred art of listening
Rule #1: Stop talking!

Featured Books: How to Practice: The Way to Meaningful Life by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, The Sacred Art of Listening by Kay Lindahl Rule #1: Stop Talking: A Guide to Listening by Linda Eve Diamond. :) This one was especially fun as it includes both a book by my friend, Kay Lindahl (The Sacred Art of Listening) and my book, (Rule #1: Stop Talking: A Guide to Listening).


Here's one on touchstones & writing life…

Touchstones and Writing Life

The sensual home
A room of one's own
Fooling with words
Bird by bird
Teaching a stone to talk
What have you lost?

The text of this poem,
Touchstones and Writing Life, is published in The Beauty of Listening poetry book.

Featured Books: The Sensual Home by Ilse Crawford, A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf, Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, Teaching a Stone to Talk by Annie Dillard and What Have You Lost? by Naomi Shihab Nye


This one I call "La Pomme Magnifique!" (The Magnificent Apple!) ;)

La Pomme Magnifique - Linda Eve Diamond

I am
The Prophet
The voice of the poet
The apple that astonished Paris

Featured Books: I Am by Howard Falco (borrowed from Jeff’s bookshelf—Thanks, Jeff!), The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran, The Voice of the Poet featuring the poetry of Ogden Nash, Dorothy Parker, Phyllis McGinley (edited by J.D. McClatchy) and The Apple that Astonished Paris by Billy Collins


Worlds to learn…


Sing to your baby
Pearls of consciousness
The art of fact
Song of two worlds
Seeking the heart of wisdom

Featured Books: Sing to Your Baby by Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer, Pearls of Consciousness, The Art of Fact by Ben Yagoda, Song of Two Worlds by Alan Lightman, and Seeking the Heart of Wisdom by Joseph Goldstein and Jack Kornfield.


This little bedside book poem is my creative companion, Jeff… :)(:

For Jeff - L.e. Diamond

The beauty of the husband
A creative companion
Awakening the sacred

Featured Books: The Beauty of the Husband by Anne Carson, A Creative Companion by Sark, Awakening to the Sacred by Lama Surya Das