Book Spine Poetry by daintydora

Next month is NaPoWriMo - National Poetry Writing Month - and I've been neglecting the poetic form for too long. I love all the experimental methods of finding new ways to connect words and make language interesting, so when I read about the art of 'Book Spine Poetry' recently on Brain Pickings, I knew I had to try it for myself.

Book Spine Poetry literally means to use the title on the spine of a book as a line of a poem. So simple yet so clever.

And it makes me feel a lot less guilty about my Tsundoku habit. I have plenty of fodder to work with.

Inspired by the art of Nina Katchadourian, and also the experiments of Maria Popova herself, author of Brain Pickings, I decided to have a go.

Here's what I came up with after a 5-minute bookshelf grab:

Book Spine Poetry, inspired by Nina Katchadourian

Primrose Hill

Summer of Love.

London Calling:

The Secret History

Book Spine Poetry, inspired by Nina Katchadourian

She Came to Stay -

The Black Dahlia

D.I.Y Magic

Book Spine Poetry, inspired by Nina Katchadourian

White Teeth

In Cold Blood:

The One That Got Away

So much fun!

I'll definitely experiment further with this technique using more of the books that are waiting patiently to be read on my burgeoning shelves (thanks Nina), and I'll finish with this quote:

I am always paying attention to the physical qualities of the books, and I try to work with their particular attributes as much as possible. The size of a book carries temperament and tonality, as does the way the text sits on the spine. A heavy volume with large text on the spine, for example, might be exuberant, urgent, pushy; a small typeface might communicate a voice that’s exacting, shy, insecure, or furtive.

Nina Katchadourian

You can sign up to receive free daily poetry prompts from The Poetry School throughout April. I'm thinking Book Spine Poetry might be a good way to go!

Midweek Poetry: The Etymology of Azure by daintydora

I haven't written much (any?) poetry this year, so my experience recently at Lumb Bank was a jump-start to my poetic creativity. Stevie Ronnie was our tutor for the poetry element of the Book Art & Text course (check out the amazing paper books I made under Rachel Hazell's tutelage), and he immersed the group in language and words (my very favourite kind of lesson) through ingenious tasks and short games, even making up new poetic forms - the snake poem anyone? - encouraging us to inject a bit more freedom and fun into our approach to poetry.

For one of our lessons we had to write down our favourite word ahead of time, allowing Stevie to research the etymology of it and present us with the findings (though at the time we didn't know where the word was going to take us).

From there, we had to construct a poem using only the words that featured in the etymology.

My word was 'AZURE', chosen because of its colourful connotations and how it makes me feel - turquoise-y blue and free, like I'm swimming in the sea, the Med perhaps; the Côte d'Azur...

'Azure' in watercolour
'Azure' in watercolour

And the etymology was fascinating - more like a history lesson through language, culture and geology via the Mediterranean and Turkestan.

Azure is so much more than 'the blue colour of the clear sky'.

Some of the words that jumped out at me from the etymology were words I would never have thought to include in a poem, and I loved how they related back to the word (obviously) but could be jumbled up to create the story of the word, as well as a story through the poem.

These are some of my favourites:

  • Middle Latin lapis
  • false separation
  • molluscs which stick to rocks
  • Persian Lajward
  • cognates in Greek
  • the unclouded sky
  • French article
  • lapideous
  • heraldic colour blue
  • complex silicatea stone
  • a pebble
  • spangles of pyrites

They make it sound so much more complex and glamorous. I love that.

Words and phrases all with their roots in one word, but intensifying the meaning, shifting it, elevating it.

I've done very little work on the poem since I returned - it didn't feel right because I worked on it amidst the special magic of Lumb Bank (in snatches of time between meals!), presenting it on our final night by reading it out as though it was complete. And it is complete, for now. (Completely azure?)

The only thing I've allowed myself to change is the line structure - it's my area of weakness - and the title.

I thought it fitting to call it Lapis Lazuli at the time, because azure is literally 'a genitive of lazulum', but then I realised the title of this post says it best.

The Etymology of Azure

Pyrite mountains stand unclouded, proto-Italic and

essentially complex: dripping-rich

with limpets clinging to sticks.

A false sky beckons, blue, azure;

a genitive of lazulum

spangled pewter and gold.

Heraldic? Arabic?

It's the Persian Lajward

borrowed from before -

Marco Polo's short French mention:

semi-precious symbols

loaned from Latin

and archaic silicates

cognated in stone.

Midweek Poetry: The Raven by daintydora

An attempt today at a poem in Triolet form, where the eight lines follow the repetition ABaAabAB. I like repetition in a poem because it serves to emphasise particular words and create a rhythm. I think the Triolet would usually feature iambic tetrameter too, but one step at a time...

I chose the raven as the subject of the poem because I always feel birds are so intuitive and carry messages through the skies. Ravens particularly are also harbingers of fate (doom?), destiny and magic.

January feels like a somewhat fateful, dark and brooding month.

The Raven

The Raven
The raven came for you today
He stayed a while, then flew away.
(You wouldn't wish him to stay?)
dreich  silhouette above the city's decay
strutting back and forth in my window bay.
The raven came for you today -
He stayed a while then flew away.

Midweek Poetry: A Sonnet of Tweets by daintydora

Using the site Poetweet, my final poem of the year is an amalgamation of my year in tweets in sonnet form. Clever and fun, it's such a great way to remember the things I tweeted about (with a smattering of smiley faces to boot!)

Poetweet: Wood Sticks


The path… by Rebecca HJ

Loving this season of adventure! :) Inseparable from my knitted hat...) Perpetual beauty in nature Thanks - will try that ;)

So much for the shout-out! :) A festive stock-take: December 2015 Late!) I love how this turned out! Poetry: One night in November

Collage Club: What is beautiful? Great topic & discussion :) Colourful & delightful!

Void of your head:/inconsolable." The Autumn Pages Matcha makes mornings manageable!

I've never composed a sonnet before, and I think this one is a perfect insight to my Twitter feed and the exclamation mark of excitement that is often my internal world. The final stanza is my favourite.

May your 'path' for 2016 be paved with happiness, good fortune and gold. Happy New Year :)

Midweek Poetry: Chop, chop, peel & an 'astronaut' carrot by daintydora

Today I woke with the urge to cook and bake and prepare food. I've been away from home for a few days so perhaps the break inspired this bout of kitchen domesticity?

I started with a pot of soup, scrubbing the carrots I harvested from my own garden. I bashed the earth from the roots, sliced the greenery from the top and scrubbed the bent-up carrots I planted too-close-together feeling an immediate sense of nourishment and gratitude in the pungent carrot-y smell.

It took longer than I thought - to sort the gnarled twists into clean, peeled fodder for my meal. But it was satisfying.

Here's my 'astronaut carrot'; half-eaten by a slug or something else (worse?), all tangled strands incestuous and squirming:

Chop, chop, peel: Carrot Astronaut

I didn't have much else to work with, but...

I had onions and herbs, a clove of smokey garlic, oil and butter and sundried tomatoes and a few potatoes that I added to the mix.

I had flour in the cupboard and porridge oats and oatmeal and a few scoops of light brown sugar and so while the soup was bubbling away on the hob, I measured the ingredients for bread and for oatcakes and the morning was cold, frosty with a dampness in the air, yet my little kitchen was hot and steamy with the creation of lovely autumn comfort foods, made with the scarcest of ingredients.

When the bread and the oatcakes were in the oven I melted more butter and squeezed out a tablespoon of golden syrup and greased a baking tray for the flapjacks.

I don't like to use as much sugar as the recipe suggests (an idea I got from the lovely Lila), so I swapped 75g of sugar for 50g of toasted almonds, and it felt a bit like alchemy because I like to switch things up but I have no jurisdiction in the kitchen; no knowledge of what might happen or go wrong like I do when I'm sewing or writing. And I know that baking is a precise science.

I kept the radio on and chopped and kneaded and rolled, listening to the Stereophonics and Muse and Moby and others I can't remember because I was lost in the flow, and by the time I was finished the sun was coming out and it was time for a cup of tea and I'd made a little feast that filled the house with a cosy warm breath of happiness.

Everything turned out OK, well, better than expected or perhaps just as expected if I'd paused to consider what that might be?

I used a heart-shaped cookie cutter for the oatcakes, and I had the soup for lunch with a hunk of fresh bread and I was going to take a photo but I was too hungry to care.

Here's a poem inspired by the baking and making:

Chop, chop, peel

Smoked garlic and simmered
onions spitting lizards
from the pot,
squeezed through silver pinholes
oiled in neon with seaweed-
salt, sun-dried
tomatoes and mixed herbs
for the stock.


Orange skins
trailing roots piled up by the sink:
chop, chop, peel -
and dirt caught in the plughole
scrubbed black indents
leaving traces in the bark.


Then a circus swirling free
in a sauna of steel
left quietly resting
until the kneaded seeds
are floured, pulled
steaming golden from below.


And how does it feel:
chop, chop, peel -
as the knife cuts through?
Resistance brief
then exposed raw slices
screaming inside.


How could I know?


Midweek Poetry: Jaybird, Songbird by daintydora

This isn't a new poem, but I thought I'd republish it here today. It is short and silly and it rhymes, so it's a perfect midweek pick-me-up.

Jaybird, Songbird sing for me: Midweek Poetry

Jaybird, Songbird,
brown-spotted Thrush.
Jaybird, Songbird -
night-time crush.
Jaybird, Songbird
oh how twee;
Jaybird, Songbird
sing for me.

These lines came to me as I walked home from work one night a few years ago, photographing the broken skeletons of leaves that lay in my path, and pondering a situation I was involved in that had become all-consuming, exhausting and miserable.

The rhythm of my steps seemed to beat out the words, and I was drawn to the idea of repetition as I found it comforting.

I suppose the idea of the birds singing sweetly in the trees - particularly the Songbird - and going about their business as the season changed from summer to autumn, felt uplifting and hopeful.

Possibilities everywhere, in the hedgerows and trees, in the sky, in my own back garden, in my head.

I have a lot of ideas for bird poems, both frivolous and dark.

Watch this space.

Midweek Poetry: Tarot + Poetry = Tarot-etry by daintydora

I just read about this clever little poetry game via Alexandra Franzen's newsletter and this post. So I'm going to (poe)try and create Tarot-etry (see what I did there?!)

Earlier in the year I used the Druid Animal Oracle Deck to plot out my fortune for the year. June's card is the Earth Dragon:

'Earth Dragon' Animal Druid Animal Oracle Card

"Treasure of riches and potential unlocked. Beauty and power of the earth."

Auspicious. I like it.

And this about the Earth Dragon from Indigo Reading:

Once you contact your inner power and your own unique gifts the world becomes a far more beautiful place. Limitations and restrictions are lifted and you will find you can manifest all that you need because you at last understand that life has no limits, it is only humanity that creates them.

(I wonder if this means I'll win the Synaesthesia Magazine poetry competition?)

Scaled tail where treasures lurk;
the Earth Dragon's cloistered cavern.
Shaded emerald earth and ferns
form Celtic cross and chain,
pursuing daggers of riches
bronzed to gold
with the potential of their power.

It was a 5-minute effort. A fun game. A midweek Tarot-etry.

I love to experiment with words.


*Finalist* Synaesthesia Magazine Poetry Competition '15 by daintydora

It's been a super-creative week all round for this magpie, but the icing on the cake with a huge golden cherry on top (laced with Amaretto, Brandy and a soupçon of Schnapps) is being named as a finalist in the Synaesthesia Magazine Poetry Competition 2015. I entered a mini-anthology of five poems, deliberating for quite some time over my theme, which poems to send, the placement of the words, the formatting.

My words on paper, written down, typed up, and now chosen anonymously to be one of only six finalists by the editors Carlotta and Annabelle, the final decision resting with guest judge Mark Cugini.

All at once I feel delighted, honoured, excited, nervous, special - chosen. But also like I'm already a winner for making this list. It means a lot to have my work recognised and the hours I spend alone honing my words to have stood out, made an impression to the point of being "read and re-read".

The criteria for the poems was exciting in itself:

We’re looking for collections with thought, honesty and power. We’ll look for lines and images we’ve never read before. We’re looking to be slammed hard by a wall of shit-hot poetic brilliance; something you know deserves attention, affection and an audience looking to be blown to smithereens. Blow our senses – we don’t mind the mess.

OK. Yes! Fingers crossed for the big-reveal in July.

I wish my five fellow finalists good luck and will let fate do the rest.

Sunlight shining on the beach

Midweek Poetry: Where do lost streets go? by daintydora

Lost streets, lost streets. Streets don't get lost though...do they? This month's challenge with the lovely Karen from Leaf & Petal is inspired by the following poetry prompt that was posted on Mslexia for National Poetry Writing Month:

Write a poem which answers this question: ‘Where do lost streets go?’ In your poem use at least five items from the following list: piano, mirror, armchair, ten pound note, labyrinth, last, shadow, pelican, song, cheeseburger, watching, hope, dark, shape, fog, invention, figure of eight, elastic-band, elbow room.
Thanks to Penelope Shuttle, regular Poetry School tutor

Where do lost streets go?

I loved trying to weave in the words in the list, and easily managed more than the suggested five. 'Cheeseburger' however was a bridge (street?) too far.

This challenge really got me thinking about real streets that have disappeared - through demolition or falling into the sea or a river, or just deserted now because of a natural (or unnatural) diaspora. Intriguing.

My first line was inspired by the Pet Shop Boys hit Where the streets have no name:


Where the streets have no name
they all but disappear,
fall off the map like elastic
bands down a drain.
The shape of a once-loved street,
its kerbs and currencies and the eddies of its nature
hang like a fog some distance from the ground
like displaced armchairs
rocking back and forth
untethered to bricks or cement
rotting in a labyrinth;
secret stitches in time.
But I'm watching as the street I used to know,
that street so familiar in sight and sound and smell
folds into itself
a figure-of-eight fantasy
concertinaed like a pack of cards,
just shadow in a mirror.
Then: the sound of a piano
carried on the breeze
fuzzy, distant, soon to be silenced.
I imagine a cosy scene
sash windows open to the eve
on that still-alive street
where houses and their driveways
still have elbow room to breathe.
I focus my attention
drift towards it,
that melancholy sound
rippling in the dusk-tinged air
and my heart filled simply
with the song of hope.

Read Karen's response to this poetry prompt.

Last month's challenge was a poem and collage inspired by the theme 'The Voyage'.



Midweek Poetry: Poetweet by daintydora

I'm not a prolific tweeter. I have lots to say, but often I just tell my journal. But when Karen at Leaf & Petal sent me this link to Poetweet - poetry constructed from your own tweets in either Sonnet, Rondel or Indriso form, I was interested to see how my 'poem' would come out.

So I clicked the button (all the buttons in the end), and got a message (in Spanish, not sure what I was doing wrong) advising that I didn't have enough tweet-fodder for the tool to work. It went something like that anyway.

But: disappointment! Why hadn't I tweeted more often?

So today I tried it again and it worked. Here's my twitterings in poetic form, copied exactly, word for word:

Of colour by Rebecca HJ
COLLAGE: New Landscapes Listening to records on my Dansette Day 1 challenge is: 'Stripes' A heart in my latte
Corita_rules Of hand spun and synthetic fibers Gold at the Palace of Versailles: Of rotifers! What ARE rotifers???
Day 19 challenge: 'Miniature' (Not homemade) gingerbread biscuits Edinburgh's double-exposure Creative people traits Caiparinhas. Great hangover cure!

I'm quite pleased. What do you think?

There are some funny lines in there. I love the things it has picked up on - colour and collage and gold and 'a heart in my latte'. Are Caiparinhas a great hangover cure though? Mmm.

Give Poetweet a try (because there is a lot of 'try' in poeTRY). Hahaha!

All you need is your Twitter handle. You use Twitter, right?


Paint Chip Poetry: a journey in COLOUR by daintydora

I saw this idea for creating Paint Chip Poetry a few weeks ago on this cute blog, 'Zauberbear', and couldn't wait to try it. What a brilliant idea! Upon further delving, it appears there is a whole artistic industry built around the free paint chip colour samples that you can pick up in DIY stores everywhere. Who knew?

Paint Chip Poetry Poem


So I tripped along to my local DIY hangout to grab some fabulous colour chips to get creative with. And I found that they didn't have the strips anymore, but single colours. So I had to improvise. I think it makes for a super-colourful and eclectic selection.


Paint Chip Poetry PoemSome of the colours are very dark and make it difficult to read the text, so I've transcribed my paint chip poetry masterpieces so that the highfalutin nuances are not lost...

I found a
Lover's Secret
Kensington Gardens
Right between the
Winter Moss
and a
Bengal Tiger.

Paint Chip Poetry Poem

Brave Girl;
Resplendent Emerald
Dream Weaver,
Taming the
Fire Within.
She had
Three Wishes
In the
Dance of the Goddesses -
Pastel Perfect
Blue Tea
and a
Kernel of Truth.
Paint Chip Poetry Poem
In a
Misty Harbour
I saw a
Flock of Seagulls.
"Tell me a secret"
He whispered.
This was...
High Voltage.
I thought of
Mimi's Kimono,
of the
Buttered Crumpet
and of
Found Treasure.
I was
"Meet me in Morocco".
Winter Twilight
World's Away;
Shrimp Shells
in a
Fiery Sky.
Storybook Sundown
with a
Chance of Showers.
Fleecy Dreams
Sooty Lashes
the final
Cat's Meow.

Paint Chip Poetry Poem

I Sail the Seas on an
Outré Orange boat
Cape Verde!
Tropic Heart;
Golden Beet.
It's Poetry in Motion
When I
Sail the Seas.


My favourite colour name? It has to be Mimi's Kimono.

Go try it for yourself and do share!