Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Biggest, Most Humongous Book of Poetry (or Anything Else) Ever Published

by Stephen J. Gertz

Book or Slinky?
Bill Voss of University of Iowa opens Poetry City Marathon.

Photo credit: Matthew Holst / Press-Citizen

It's 10,119 pages long as 100 volumes  bound within a single volume two feet thick.

It's Poetry City Marathon, written by Iowa City poet, Dave Morice, aka Dr. Alphabet, the result of an endurance test, Morice writing 100 poems a day for 100 days straight between July and October of last year. The project was part of University of Iowa's Main Library exhibit on the history of the Iowa Writer's Workshop, the Actualist Poetry Movement, and a celebration of  Iowa City being named a city of literature by UNESCO.

Bill Voss, of UI's Libraries Preservation Department, was the binder of this, the largest-ever binding project yet produced by that division. A standard-size book will generally only take a few hours to bind within simple cloth-baked covers. Poetry City Marathon took twenty-four hours spread out over four days, with twelve hours necessary to making the special press required to put it together.

"To even read the book you need to use supports made of bricks and boards to keep the spine from breaking," Nancy Kraft, head the Library Preservation Department said.

"We really did the binding so it could take a little abuse, and with a book this size, a little abuse means reading it," she continued. "[But] we're used to the idea of providing book support, especially in some older books, older manuscripts ... or large, over-sized newspaper."

The plan is to submit the book to the Guinness Book of World Records as evidence of the world's thickest published book. The current record is held by Harper Collins' 4,000 page, twelve-inch thick limited edition (500 copies) of The Complete Miss Marple, containing every single one of the Agatha Christie novels and short stories featuring the Divine Miss M as protagonist.

There are no plans, it seems, to produce any copes for sale; you won't be seeing the book on Amazon discounted to $9.95.

Morice is planning addendums comprised of  twenty-six 7,000 word Afterwords. The aim is to reach the million-word mark. "That would make it longer than War and Peace," he said.

Caveat reader: With poetry it's not the size, it's the sizzle.

Those interested in reading Poetry City Marathon without fear of hernia, slipped disk, or busted gut may access its full content here.

Full story (not much more) at the Iowa Press-Citizen.

1 comment:

  1. A case of "Never mind the quality, feel the width.", perhaps


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