Centos: Tiny Poetry From Book Spines

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All photos by Annette Simon.

Over the last few years, I’ve been fortunate to review Annette Simon’s books, Robot Zombie Frankenstein and Robot Burp Head Smartypants. And as much as I love those two robots, it’s following her on Facebook where I found something I never get too much of: her book spine poetry.

“I started playing with spine poems, or ‘centos,’ shortly after I began working at our local indie, The BookMark, in 2011,” Annette told me when I asked how she started creating these wonderful mini-poems. “A perk of being a bookseller is getting the chance to read books not yet published,” she continued, “and one day a colleague, Pat Laurence, and I starting playing with the fun titles of the advance copies piled on the cart. I had my camera with me, and one thing led to another. I didn’t really know spine poetry was a ‘thing’ until the store received Nina Katchadourian’s Sorted Books. Then the blog Brain Pickings mentioned it, and I learned that Travis Jonker at School Library Journal had been talking spine poems since 2010. So they get the credit; I get to play. Won’t you join us?”

Because I never tire of seeing them and in honor of National Poetry Month, I asked Annette if she’d share her favorites with us, so here they are along with a few of my favorites she’s created as well.

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Annette prefaced this one with, “For those who scribble, scratch, draft, and doodle. Yay, you!”

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We’ve all had this day:

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And this feeling:

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For all those graduations and birthdays and awards and futures waiting to happen:

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What I want in friends:

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Career planning? This one’s for you:

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Indeed:

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If you’ve developed a close relationship with your electronics, you’ll understand:

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If only the answers were inside:

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We all learned this truth:

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Watch out for bears and dragons. Especially if you’re hungry. Or if they’re hungry, come to think of it.

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You can find more of Annette’s spine poetry in this blog post and find all the great stuff she’s been up to at annettesimon.net.

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By day, Ruth works to make open source software communities better. The rest of the time, she makes things, which means her husband and kids know to watch out for stray sewing pins and to ask before eating anything made of fondant.