Friday Fun Facts: Artist’s Books

This week we kicked off a challenge to take existing books and create a new work out of it: book spine poetry. We’ve gotten great submissions so far, so keep sending them in! (We’ll start posting them on June 6th.)

Playing with genre and form made me think about the medium of a book itself. One amazing way people do this is with the creation of artist’s books. According to the Smithsonian:

An artist’s book is a medium of artistic expression that uses the structure or function of “book” as inspiration—a work of art in book form. Although artists have illustrated the words of others for centuries, the book as art object is relatively recent.

I was fortunate enough to see an artist’s book display at Indiana University recently, and I wanted to take them all home with me! Here are a few that caught my eye:

  • BadQuarto9
    by the Virginia Arts of the Book Center
    The Bad Quarto by the Virginia Arts of the Book Center features an unofficial variant of Hamlet that was likely used by traveling minstrels. When creating it, the artists had several rules, including that “the only words that could appear on any page had to be from the assigned page in Q1; they could be re-arranged, excerpted.” The differences between this version and the Hamlet we all know are striking, moving, and humorous. To be presented in such a playful yet dark way, really does the text justice.
  • Praxis by Julie Chen is a playful, summery book. It has tabs that pull and twist, revealing new words and colors. It is reminiscent of a child’s interactive pop-up book.

    by 23 Sandy Gallery
    by 23 Sandy Gallery
  • Sanctus Sonorensis by Philip Zimmermann mimics a child’s first bible with its board-book pages, its rounded corners, and its gilded edges. It represents the passing of a day in the desert by the US-Mexico border as agents wait for illegal immigrants to give up in the heat of the day and rise from the scrub brush. Each spread features the sky as the day grows in light and heat, as well as a beatitude reading something like “Blessed are the pool boys” or “Blessed are the adobe brick makers.” Toward the end of the book, dusk begins to fall and the text turns to phrases like  “and let us forgive la migra.”

    by RISD Special Collections
    by RISD Special Collections
  • Soap Story by Angela Lorenz comes to you as two small packages. The first is a photo album with six, oval openings. The second is a box of six square, numbered soaps. To release the story, you must wash and wash with each soap block, freeing the piece of paper within. Once the paper is freed, it can be put into the album to tell the story.
  • Riverine by Sara White explores the landscape around New Orleans, Louisiana. The pages unfold this way and that, and the text flows along the pages with each page turn. It’s a beautiful book, printed on handmade paper with an eight-color letterpress process.

Enjoy your long weekend! And send us a poem!


Book Spine Poetry: A Challenge

Years ago, someone challenged me to make a poem out of book titles by stacking the books. I had only business and leadership titles to work with, but it was still an awesome brain teaser.


In addition, it got me thinking. How many lovely poems could my book collection create?

Thus, for the month of June, we want to see what you (yes, you!) can come up with out of your own book collection or even from the library. (Plus, it gives us a glimpse into what’s on your shelves!)

So, here’s the deal:

  • Send in a photo of your book spine poetry to If you have a title for your piece other than the first book title, let us know.
  • We’ll post it on the site!
  • Feel free to send as many as you like.

Easy peasy, right? Get stacking!

Friday Fun Facts: Prompts from the Interwebs

We made it to another Friday! If you’re in Bloomington, you should check out the New Belgium Short Film Festival this evening. For the rest of you, sorry you don’t live in Bloomington!

Here are some wonders from the Internet to get your writing gears going this weekend.

Happy Friday, everyone!

The 2016 Women Excel Bloomington Awards

2016 Women Excel LogoOn May 11, we had the great honor of attending the Bloomington Chamber of Commerce’s Women Excel Bloomington (WEB) Awards, since our dearly beloved Lesley was receiving one! Along with six other recipients, Lesley took the stage to be recognized for all she does as a woman and a business owner in our community. (See this post for her nomination letter, if you’re curious.) She was part of a great group of women who change the world with both everyday and extraordinary actions, and we’re so proud of her! Check out the Bloomington Chamber of Commerce’s gallery of photos for professional shots of the luncheon.

by Rachel Rosolina
by Rachel Rosolina
by The Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce
by The Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce

Chicago Manual of Style Q&A | May 2016

Every month, the Chicago Manual of Style folks answer questions they’ve received. Following are a couple excerpts from the Q&A of May 2016. To read the full month’s Q&A, visit

click here to investigate Q. How does one, using a word processor, make an em dash/en dash distinguishable from a hyphen?

buy cheap clomid online uk A. You might have noticed that when you type two hyphens with no spaces around them in MS Word, your computer turns them into an em dash if your automatic formatting settings are on. (If you type spaces around the hyphens, Word supplies an en dash.) You can type an em dash on purpose using the keystrokes Control+Alt+Minus (the Minus key is on the numeric keypad). To type an en dash, try Control+Minus. Or go to Insert > Symbol  > More Symbols, and click on the Special Characters tab to find both of these marks and others. For Mac applications and those other than Word, search online for “type [punctuation mark] in [your application].”

Q. I’m proofreading a manuscript and would like to know what the rule is for formatting a drop initial cap if the remaining text is in italics because it’s an exhibition title. The title is in italics, but the starting letter is a drop cap and is in roman. Is that OK, or should the cap be in italics as well?

A. Truly, there is no rule. A graphic designer might be the best person to rule on the aesthetics of roman versus italics in this case, since a happy result depends largely on the typeface, size, and position of the drop cap.

Two-Minute Recap

ion-bogdan dumitrescu via Flickr
ion-bogdan dumitrescu via Flickr

Thank you so much to everyone who wrote for—or even just read—our Two-Minute Challenge. It was a great success! Here’s a recap, in case you missed one or two:

It’s been amazing! We’ve had poignant and funny, profound and ridiculous. Next month we’ll do another challenge, so stay tuned. And if you have any suggestions for what that challenge is, let us know!

Friday Fun Facts: Cursive Writing

As one who loves paper and pen, I am incredibly sad to see cursive writing dropped from schools. There is such beauty and personality in a signature. A handwritten note will never be the same (if it even continues to exist). Children of today will grow to be illiterate to some of the world’s most precious pieces of writing.

Some say cursive writing has become archaic in our digital age. Others say that it is a cultural art that should be preserved. I say it is still relevant and important and should be reinstated in schools immediately. Some facts to back my argument:

Where do you stand on the issue?


Sources: Five Reasons Kids Should Still Learn Cursive Writing, The Benefits of Cursive Go Beyond Writing, Cursive Handwriting: It’s More Than Just a Signature

Two Hairy Minutes

beardby Rachel Rosolina

It is dark when the alarm goes off, and I am smooshed into the pillow. Rising, I can feel myself misshapen from sleep. Not to worry—with a stretch, I look even better than yesterday. I quietly collect the water from face washing and tooth brushing for later. Perhaps I will drip it on a desk, or better yet, I will release it onto the woman’s hair when I am pressed against her during a hug. She loves that.

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day; it is the first thing people see when they look at me: a little butter blended with the gray, some jam to make me oddly sticky, and of course a nice layering of crumbs. How else would I find my way home if I get lost?

Rather than the normal bike ride, today’s adventure is the car. Fortunately, it’s warm enough to have the windows down, and the breeze feels glorious, tossing me this way and that. I catch a glimpse of myself in the side mirror and am in awe.

When I reach the office, it’s always fun to start with a quick game of what can I hold. Today, the pencil is easy. You can’t even see the paperclips. The pocketknife is a bit more difficult, but I’m wiry and it stays put. The hummus from lunch will help. Sometimes in the afternoon, we have a dance party and film my amazing movement in slow motion. Everyone is impressed.

After a long day at work, it’s nice to sit on the couch and hang out with the cat. I am her favorite cushion. Today, however, because of the beautiful weather, I’m enjoying the sunshine in the backyard. There’s even a mirror set up across from my chair so I can see myself in all my glory.

Wait. What’s that buzzing? That’s not a comb! With each pass, clumps of me fall to the ground like so many dead leaves, and I feel the air against my naked roots.

My splendor has been reduced to stubble.

(This week we are proud to share our Two-Minute submissions. If you have a submission, feel free to send it in!)

The Last Two Minutes

by Tyler Anthony

photo by Circe Denyer
photo by Circe Denyer

The attic floor creaked under Michael’s feet as he came to rest in front of the rusty chest for perhaps the hundredth time. It had been ten years since his grandfather had first taken him up here, five years since he passed away, and only two since Michael opened the first chest.

Five identical chests sat misplaced across the attic, clean in comparison to the thick layer of dust that had sunken into years of forgotten clutter.

As a boy of six, Michael had been ready to believe whatever his grandfather said. With a deep draw in his voice and constant twinkle in his eye, Papa could tell you the sky was red and you’d want to believe him.

“These chests have been in our family for five generations, boy. My grandfather’s grandfather’s grandmother was a wise, powerful woman. With her dying breaths she blessed our family, putting protection over all of us for generations to come.”

Michelle smiled in spite of himself. Papa hadn’t known what to do with a grandson, but he did love telling stories. He insisted on taking Michael up to the attic every time he visited even after he got sick.

“She placed her spirit in these chests, Michael. Her protection lives on to this day. As long as these chests stay closed, she is with us.”

Sheepishly, Michael glanced at the four opened chests remembering his last visit. Out of sadness or anger, he couldn’t tell, he had climbed the attic ladder and cracked open every one. All except the last.

Now here he was, up in the attic again, avoiding the sad relatives down stairs all dressed in black. This would probably be his last visit.

His mom’s voice jerked him back.

“Michael! It’s time to go, sweetie!”

Wiping the dampness from his eyes, he took his bike lock from his pocket. Fastening it on the cold metal, he checked twice to make sure it was secure. With that he patted the chest one last time and began his climb down.

(This week we are proud to share our Two-Minute submissions. If you have a submission, feel free to send it in!)

Two Minutes of Water Works

by Max Patch

urinalPale and cold, he curled up against the tile wall as he began to fall back into a deep sadness that he was much too familiar with. Feeling as if he had been discarded like a damp paper towel, he was once again alone. I am so unloved, thought the lonely urinal to himself.

Wishing he could experience the sacredness of human contact, he thought back to stories that his uncle had told him. Stories of days long passed, when people were required to touch the urinals before greeting the sink. He wasn’t sure if he could believe his uncle’s old tales. He wished that he could go back in time, back to the factory to ask him more questions about it. But the answers wouldn’t matter. The past doesn’t change the present.

The lonely urinal watched with sadness as yet another human visited the toilet. Why? he thought, Why do I not get my own private room? Was I not created for the same purpose?

He heard the human giggle behind the stall walls, undoubtedly watching a video of a piñata accident at a tiny human’s birthday gathering. He wished he could see the video. Why? thought the lonely urinal, Why do people leave me so quickly, but stay so long with the toilet? If I were the toilet, I would never be sad.

Suddenly, someone came in the door! They walked toward the lonely urinal! Then . . . passed the urinal . . . toward the stall. But after realizing that another human was behind the door, the human turned back to the lonely urinal, hesitated . . . and spat right in him. He tried to hold back the emotions, but as the human turned away he couldn’t help but cry, “I would do anything to be the toilet!”

The loud response reverberated off the walls.

“You wouldn’t feel that way if you really knew,” said the toilet, as he swallowed his 15th piece of feces that day.

(This week we are proud to share our Two-Minute submissions. If you have a submission, feel free to send it in!)