I love composing poems on the computer as much as the next person, but today I would like to encourage turning the screen off (after reading this post of course!), walking away from the electronic world, and return to composing on paper first. See how the form and texture of a piece of paper influences our writing. Write a poem, and then make our own book. Give it as a gift, keep it for yourself, sell on etsy (you know you’ve been thinking about starting your own publishing business)….
For this poem project you will want one piece of 8 ½ x 11 paper, a pair a scissors or exacto knife, ruler, and some type of cutting surface.
Step 1: Fold your paper, lengthwise, in half. Crease and reopen.
Step 2: Fold in half widthwise. Crease and reopen. Now your creases have divided your paper into fourths.
Step 3: Flip your paper over so the widthwise fold becomes a peak. So, if you were laying the paper on a table it would look like a small mountain.
Step 4: Fold in the ends of the paper to the widthwise middle fold. Crease and reopen.
TA-DA! You have just made an accordion fold! You are 1/3 way to making your own, self-published one-of-a-kind little book of poems!
Step 5: On your cutting surface, cut a slit down the lengthwise crease ONLY along the middle two sections. You want to cut only the middle sections so you don’t split your paper in half. This cut will allow you to have multiple pages to write in.
Step 6: Fold in half, again, lengthwise along the original crease.
Step 7: Push the ends together so the middle section, where you made the cut, will make an X or look like a cube. This creates your pages!
Step 8: Fold over the middle section and wrap around to look like a traditional book.
Now you have options for the poem you will write!
Write a lyric story that fits into the size of your book. Put in photos or drawings. Write a poem that is circular so the beginning is the end and the end is the beginning. Use the middle hidden section to tell a secret story, or reveal a mystery from the poem on the pages. How does the look of your book inform the meaning of your poem?
In my little handmade book (photoed above) I decorated the cover with a beautiful postcard of a woman I got while traveling through Shanghai. The woman is young, in the garden, and happy. Every other page is covered in tinfoil. Online, I found a font that would type backward and from right to left. I edited into a shorter version of one of my “Hey, Big Wild” poems, which is a strange Frankensteinian creation story of Franking building Mateo. After pasting the language into the booklet, the tin foil reflected the writing to read left to right and forward. I thought the whole design told and embodied the creation story of Frank’s manic behavior and relationship with Mateo.
Check out Creating Handmade Books by Alisa Golden for more detailed instructions and other book forms!