“The Boat of Quiet Hours,” built by Cindy Hunter Morgan as inspiration for our first Book Spine Poetry Contest.
While you might not be able to judge a book by its cover, it turns out that you can craft poetry with several covers. That’s what friends and followers of the RCAH Center for Poetry learned when they entered our first ever Book Spine Poetry Contest.
The contest, initiated by interim director Cindy Hunter Morgan, challenges readers to build a poem using lines consisting of book titles. Contestants were tasked with choosing 3-7 books, arranging them in such a way as to display the titles to be read as lines of poetry, and submitting a photo of the constructed poem for consideration.
With 46 entries submitted by 26 people from around the U.S., it was difficult choosing only one winner. Cindy suggested narrowing the widely varied and highly eclectic field down to ten finalists.
In the end, Stephen Rachman, a professor in the MSU Department of English, won with his entry, “Underworld.”
“Underworld,” winner of the Book Spine Poetry Contest, built by Stephen Rachman.
About the winning entry, Cindy shared these comments:
“Underworld,” built by Steve Rachman, is the only entry that uses one book (Underworld) to function visually and formally as a title for the poem that follows, and “Underworld,” as that title, serves as an effective set up for the poem. We love the multiple, simultaneous possibilities of meaning in this poem, and we’re all a little worried about this woman. We wish her well on her journey, and we send congratulations to Steve, who constructed something haunting and evocative with this stack of books.
Cindy had this to say about our finalists:
The nine other entries we’ve listed as finalists are not listed in any particular order. We love these poems for various reasons: vivid imagery, wild juxtaposition, a sense of surprise, use of metaphor, or a kind of philosophical statement the “builder” is able to make with very few moves. We’ve also listed one “Special Mention” poem, which did not meet the requirements of the contest (a minimum of three titles) but feels important and significant because of its message. This “Special Mention” poem was submitted by RCAH Director of Communications Morris Arvoy. Thank you for this poem, Moe.
To view all 46 entries, visit our Flickr Page.