Elisabeth Tonnard

They Were Like Poetry


A book with poems based on a suggestion by James Joyce.

The poems are exercises, composed from sentences that were themselves meant as exercises. The sentences come from a popular 19th century school grammar by Alexander Allen and James Cornwell. Joyce mentions the “nice sentences” in this book and the idea of them as poetry in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man:

And there were nice sentences in Doctor Cornwell’s Spelling Book. They were like poetry but they were only sentences to learn the spelling from.
——Wolsey died in Leicester Abbey
——Where the abbots buried him.
——Canker is a disease of plants,
——Cancer one of animals.
It would be nice to lie on the hearthrug before the fire, leaning his head upon his hands, and think on those sentences.

Which is what I did.

Published in Leerdam, The Netherlands, August 2014.

Edition of 100 numbered copies. Black & white printing, perfect bound paperback. Size 13 x 19 cm, 68 pages.

Priced at € 24 plus shipping. You can order the book through my webshop or by sending me an email.

See some images by clicking here.

The book is available in the collections of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Bibliothèque Kandinsky (Centre Pompidou), Bodleian Library (special collections at Weston Library), Columbia University, Erfgoedbibliotheek Hendrik Conscience (Antwerp), Jan Michalski Foundation for Writing and Literature, Kunstbibliothek (Berlin), National Library of The Netherlands (Koninklijke Bibliotheek), Oxford Brookes University, Poëziecentrum Gent, Princeton University, Van Abbe museum, Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte (Munich).

Written by Elisabeth Tonnard

July 30, 2014 at 8:46 pm