Book Title Poems

The Setup

So a few weeks ago, I came across this post on Art of Trolling. Heads up: it’s naughty, but quite amusing. And more than a little silly. And even so, I thought, “Wow, that’s really cool.  I wonder what else you could do with that,” before forgetting about it.

Then last week Judy Clement Wall posted a blog sharing her poem arranged from book titles. J’s effort is, as is everything she does, quite lovely.

For me, it was one of those moments when the perfect combination of ideas comes together. I am obsessed with book titles. I love poetry. What’s more, I actually am a poet. I also am quite partial to crafts and projects, not to mention that I’m madly in love with physical books, of which I have many to choose from. Clearly, this is a concept that was meant to be my soul mate.

I immediately set out to write a book title poem of my own.

My Attempts

(You can click on these pictures to enlarge them.)

Horoscopes for the Dead

under the skin
needful things –
deep in the darkness,
looking for love.

The night swimmer
the courage to change,
sailing alone around the room,
under the influence
fears unnamed.

There is an urgency –
cold fire,
pale fire.

old flames
a light in the attic
in this
house of leaves.

I liked this one, but it was too long for the picture to look good and the titles to be readable. So I tried a shorter one:

Paradise Lost

Wild at heart,
Satan says,
“Darkness demands
lost souls.
angels and demons
into the fire.”

This one’s much more photogenic, but perhaps a little dark. (Hey, I have a lot of horror novels. What can I say?) So I tried for one more, both short and less heavy:

The Book of Virtues

The decisive writer
a room of one’s own,
where angels fear to tread,
fear itself,
the book thief —
the giver.

How to Write a Book Title Poem

The first thing I did was begin pulling books from my shelves based on titles. Yes, this destroyed my beautifully organized bookshelves, but it was worth it. I took down titles that caught my eye for one of these key reasons:

1) They were poetic already.
2) They were particularly pretty covers.
3) They caught my mind by being somehow tied to another one I pulled.
4) I figured they would be useful phrases.

Now, I pulled way more books than I used. But that’s part of the fun.

I started messing around by stacking my favorite choices, trying to make the phrases fit together to make sense as a free verse poem. Once I had a good little section, I started browsing my shelves for specific things, like verb titles or phrases to be used as an adjective, etc.

When I got to the point that I had a decent stack with some holes, I sat down at my computer and typed up the lines, leaving blanks where something was logistically missing. Then I filled them in. The blanks were either 1) a short word or phrase that I could write on a blank book cover, or 2) something bigger than that. For the 2nd, in my longer poem, I simply went to my local public library’s website and started searching the catalog for words I needed. Bingo.

Finally, I made the book covers (just wrapped the spines of spare books in blank printer paper and wrote the words in), stacked them in order, and snapped a photo. Then I wrote out the poem and capitalized/punctuated it the way I wanted, because in the photos the titles can be a bit tough to read. Voila. A book title poem.

The Rules

These were, of course, self-imposed. As far as I know, there is no official Book Title Poetry Board of Snooty Regents.

1) No extra words (i.e. I couldn’t just ignore words that I didn’t want to use).
2) Keep covered books to a minimum.
3) Covered books could be used only for small phrases or single words.
4) Use mostly books I own.
5) One title per line of the poem.
6) Make it pretty.

The Challenge

So there you have it. I hope you love the idea as much as I do. If so, why not give it a go? I would love to see what y’all come up with. And I found it to be a really fun way to stretch my creativity.

If you do make a book title poem and blog/tumblr/flickr/whatever it, please come back here and paste the link to that post in the comments. Or if you don’t have a blog/don’t want to do a post on this, feel free to paste the text of the poem in the comments. Get as creative as you want: color themes, DVD cases, all books by one author, etc. I can’t wait to see what y’all come up with!

Where to Read More

I do hope that you guys want to play, but if not, at least I had fun and got to share this neat idea with you.

Are you like me and can’t get enough? Aside from the two at the top of this post, here are some more book title poems I found online:

  • What Rhymes With April? by Stacy Post at A Writer’s Point of View
  • Take A Look It’s On A Book by Abigail at Oh My Words!
  • Flickr by the The Northern Onondaga Public Library
  • Book Title Sentence Poem by Karin and Julie at Edifying and Edgy
  • Write Poetry with your Bookshelf by Meredith Ann Rutter at The Blog Farm
  • A Poem of Novels by Tahereh Mafi
  • Stack Poetry by Valette Keller at Rhapsodic

Happy title poeteering, my loves! =)

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  • -j-

    WOW! This is how it looks when a real poet tries it. (I did have a pretty nature background for mine, which counts as poetry when you’re not actually poet. J-rules.) 😉

    Love, love, love yours! And our processes was just the same except I didn’t consider covers at all. (Hence, the necessity of a pretty background.)

    • Yes! I did love your pretty background. I wanted to take mine outside too – I had my eye on a brick wall next to our pretty bird bath – but it was pouring rain the day I did mine. =( And thank you, J! I’m glad you like them. =)

  • TrudieMarie


  • Gah, I’m no good at this. XD Besides, with an overwhelming majority of my books in the fantasy genre (thus, lengthy titles), I don’t really have good, connectible titles to choose from. That’s okay, yours are all pretty and make up for my inability! 😀


  • Excellent! It really is the perfect marriage of two of your passions!

  • These are SO MUCH FUN!!! lol! And surprisingly harder than I thought they’d be! I love your poems! And I love your rules too, lol!

    I followed your rules, by the way, when I did mine! 😉

    • Yay! This is awesome. Everyone should go read Laura’s poem; it’s really good! Thanks Laura. =)

  • Richardsfive

    You are so talented sometimes you take my breath away, Annie. I admit when I started to read this post about stacking books to make poems with the titles I thought, “Well, there’s a fun bit of silliness. What will be produced will be entertaining even if it can’t pssibley be good.” So I was knocked down when I read the poems you created. They were more than good, they were wonderful!

    • You are so sweet! This totally made my day. Thanks Regina! =)

  • Melissa Crytzer Fry

    Annie – I know I’ve been quite (my mom was here for awhile). I’m sorry I missed this when it came out, but I loved it. I especially liked “The Book Of Virtues” with the book thief :-).

    • Thanks Melissa! I’m glad you like it. =) Hope you had fun with your mom!

  • I’ve been meaning to comment for a while. This is such a great idea. I love the ones you and Laura made, ha, awesome.

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  • Irishkelly72

    you need to pin this at!

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  • ddaisy

    Here’s one:

    Here’s the first:

    We (several teachers) took time to create a few in our office today. I left the pics on my school computer; I’m planning to post them sooner or later!

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