Traverse City Record-Eagle

Northern Living

April 20, 2014

‘Book Spine’ poems range from fun to thoughtful

TRAVERSE CITY — It’s a contest for the times.

Brilliant Books’ April “Book Spine Poetry” contest calls for entrants to grab some books, arrange each spine and respective title in a creative order to their liking, then snap and email a photo.

The bookstore posts the best on its Facebook and Pinterest pages.

At the end of the month, the contestant with the most creative book spine poem will receive a $100 Brilliant Books gift certificate while the classroom with the most creative poem will receive a $50 certificate.

“It’s National Poetry Month in April, which is why we thought it would be a wonderful way for people to create a poem by arranging books and coming up with something interesting,” said Brilliant Books owner Peter Makin, who came up with the idea. “It’s something they would never do if they had to write it out.

“It’s sort of a 21st-century thing. You literally could not have done this five years ago, but now everyone has a phone.”

Makin said the store, which ships books to readers all over the country, has received more than 100 poems so far. Entrants include everyone from award-winning poets like Traverse City’s Robb Astor, winner of the 2014 Michigan Writers Cooperative Press chapbook contest, to fifth-graders.

“We had someone who had this huge pile of books and she had this epic poem,” Makin said.

Entries range from the fun to the thoughtful, like St. Francis High School sophomore Alyssa Bradfield’s five-title poem. Bradfield, 16, pulled books from her school’s library shelves to come up with: “Forever” “Embrace” “The Age of Miracles” “Impossible” “Extraordinary” “Bittersweet.”

“I was just looking for something that went well together and sounded good,” Bradfield said.

The contest runs through April and will be judged by Jennifer Yeats, senior editor of the “Dunes Review” literary journal. The winners will be announced May 1.

To enter, submit your photo to

To read more poems, visit or


'Book Spine' poems range from fun to thoughtful

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