Bookstack Poem

I created this poem in August 2012 especially for a spine poem competition on LibraryThing. The aim was to create a poem using book spines. The poem could incorporate any element of the spine (colour, text, whatever), and theme/length/format was also entirely up to the author. However, bonus points were to be awarded if it was about books, reading, or LibraryThing. You can probably tell that I enjoyed my theme. Alas, I wasn’t among the winners.

photo of bookstack poem

If you’re having difficulty reading the titles, the poem goes like this:

What Lesbians do in Books

Dear Girl, flesh and paper,
open me carefully.
Parted lips keeping you a secret.
The private parts of girls
writing out your life.
Another mother tongue
daring to dissent.
Love, death,
and the changing of the seasons.
Somewhere like this
summer will show
choices. Bodies
naked in the promised land.
An archive of feelings –
girls, visions and everything.
happy endings.
The poet in the world
made from this earth,
reading the L word.
The beautiful rapture,
the dream of a common language.
A woman determined
only this blue
handmade love
the best of it.

The books used are all examples of lesbian fiction, lesbian poetry, or books about lesbian or women-centred lives:

  • What Lesbians Do in Books, eds. Elaine Hobby and Chris White
  • Dear Girl: The Diaries and Letters of Two Working Women 1897-1917, ed. Tierl Thompson
  • Flesh and Paper, Suniti Namjoshi and Gillian Hanscombe
  • Open me Carefully: Emily Dickinson’s Intimate Letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson, eds. Ellen Louise Hart and Martha Nell Smith<
  • Parted Lips: Lesbian Love Quotes Through the Ages, Simone Rich
  • Keeping you a Secret, Julie Ann Peters
  • The Private Parts of Girls, Sophie Mayer
  • Writing Out Your Life: A Guide to Writing Creative Autobiography, Jo Stanley
  • Another Mother Tongue: Gay Words, Gay Worlds, Judy Grahn
  • Daring to Dissent: Lesbian Culture from Margin to Mainstream, ed. Liz Gibbs
  • Love, Death, and the Changing of the Seasons, Marilyn Hacker
  • Somewhere Like This, Pat Arrowsmith
  • Summer Will Show, Sylvia Townsend Warner
  • Choices, Nancy Toder
  • Bodies, Susie Orbach
  • Naked in the Promised Land, Lillian Faderman
  • An Archive of Feelings: Trauma, Sexuality and Lesbian Popular Cultures, Ann Cvetkovich
  • Girls, Visions & Everything, Sarah Schulman
  • Beginnings, ed. Lindsey Elder
  • Happy Endings: Writers Talk about Their Lives and Work, ed. Kate Brandt
  • The Poet in the World, Denise Levertov
  • Made From This Earth, Susan Griffin
  • Reading the L Word: Outing Comtemporary Television, eds. Kim Akass and Janet McCabe
  • The Beautiful: Collected Poems, Michelle Tea
  • Rapture, Carol Ann Duffy
  • The Dream of a Common Language: Poems 1974-1977, Adrienne Rich
  • A Woman Determined, Jean Swallow
  • Only This Blue, Betsy Warland
  • Handmade Love, Julie R. Enszer
  • The Best of It: New and Selected Poems, Kay Ryan