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ABCD: Backwards

February 11, 2017

There was snow this morning! Not much, actually, not enough to stop eleven of us meeting at the Dove to share books or books-in-progress, mostly on the topic Backwards. Coincidentally, several of them touched on the subject of left-handedness.

Karen’s first thought was the Goons’ I’m walking backwards for Christmas, and she went with that, making a spiral book with footprints and a Christmas tree


Jane brought a model of a structure (a modified Flag Book) for a sculptural book of the tenth-century anonymous Irish poem The Lament of the Old Woman of Beare. The long flowing flags represent ebb and flow – ‘Ebb-tide has come to me as to the sea …’
Jane has a sculptural book in the current exhibition at Glastonbury Abbey, on until 21 May.


Judith found inspiration at Bukurama for a triple Coptic-stitched book to house her extraordinary photos of trees in a Mexico City park whose name translates as Human Rights. The photos give the viewer the sensation of falling backwards. Human rights seem to be moving backwards too.
Judith brought a spare copy of a wonderful graphic novel in verse, In the Land of Punctuation, from Tara Books. She wondered if anyone would like to buy it. By anyone she meant me. I’m thrilled with it!

Carol has been researching snails whose coils go backwards. The result is a beautiful little book with handmade paper pages and lino-print illustrations.

Janine went backwards to last month’s topic, and produced a highly tactile hand-embroidered textile book of silk and velvet comfort.


Clare’s graphic short story A Bigger Splash recounts a childhood argument which ended when she fell backwards into a paddling-pool. The illustrations are a combination of drawing and hand-cut rubber stamps.

I am making a book of mirror-poems, poems that repeat their lines in reverse order. Some of them are about my mother, who was left-handed. I had the idea of making a book of rooms to house the ‘mirrors’, and made models of three structures before deciding on one to use. Here is that model, and one of the ‘rooms’ for the unfinished book.

Caroline brought two versions of  a spiral book, Backward Somersault.
She will be hosting an evening of Greek poetry for the East Coker Poets  on Tuesday 28 February at 7.30 in the Helyar Arms in East Coker near Yeovil.

Bron showed us Doing/Undoing, a book with prints from a plate in different states of completion, from less to more finished and back again.
As a small part of an exciting new project, she is planning a book with backwards writing and a mirror. A left-hander, she found that her mirror-writing is better than her forwards handwriting – a great asset for a print-maker.


In the 1980s Pauline was a teacher at the Dyslexia Institute. This was before the condition was widely recognised. Her book has a spine on both sides and a mirror in a pocket on the front cover, which is fastened by a pencil in a loop. The book uses a variety of different papers and is illustrated with lino-prints, letterpress and meticulous cut-outs. It makes a powerful statement in few words.

Judy made a sculptural book of the rivers of Dorset, tracing them backwards from sea to source. The labels give the names of the rivers and their tributaries, each of which is represented by a single thread.

I don’t usually photograph food, but our pot-luck lunch, Karen’s pop-up wooden dish and the plates made by Bron, looked too beautiful not to record.


Our next meeting will be on 11 March, the topic being Winged. I shall be in Poland, so I do hope someone else will take photos!

And finally … the February dove-droppings.

the rivers will be unravelled
no safety-net
a past participle is useful

walking backwards
forward and backwards
the ebb and the flow

a slim volume
left-handed snails
backwards into the paddling-pool

in a previous life
a willow xylophone
printed on acetate

we spend our lives
turning stuff round

in the backwoods
looking for words
the sound is the meaning

2 Comments leave one →
  1. sueboylepoetry permalink
    February 12, 2017 8:54 am

    What an inspiring post. So imaginative, so varied and so beautiful. It must be marvellous to have the talent to contribute to this group.

  2. February 17, 2017 10:21 am

    Finally got round to reading this post properly, lots of amazing books as always. How did she make that spiral concertina, it’s amazing, I’ll have to have a go at that!

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