The book Random, Absurd Poetry is an externally bound book. You can see excerpts from this book on this website.

We’re getting into the crunch-time for gifts, be they DIY or store-bought. We all love DIY gifts… but who wants to shop for supplies right now? It’s mayhem out there! One thing you can make out of simple materials that you might have on hand, is a book.

A book’s construction has three basic elements: the covers, the pages inside, and some sort of binding-method. I won’t go into the intricacies of book-binding here, but I will suggest some simple ideas for book-making.

A long strip of paper glued together, and a couple of covers form a simple book.

When I took a book-making course back in college, the very first book we made was a zig-zag accordion format book. Basically, we took pieces of paper and glued them together to form a long strip, then folded that strip into a zig-zag. We then cut some hard board to a little larger than the folded pages, and glued the accordion of paper inside the two covers. Simple.

You could leave the book blank, or fill it with art, poetry, a story... etc.

Another idea for simple book-making is to just staple. Make your cover, make some pages for inside, and add a couple of staples to “bind” them all together. A lot of poets and underground zine publishers use this method to make their books.

A little more fancy idea, but very beautiful, is to create an external binding. I have three examples of this: in one, my friend used an elastic and a stick to bind his book. In the two others I used materials to “sew” the covers and pages together.

This poetry Chapbook is small, just a few pages held together with two staples.

Now, as for the covers, I do recommend a board that is not soft and mushy like corrugated cardboard. However, if that’s all you have, then perhaps gluing a couple of pieces together would be sturdy enough to use. You can cover the covers of your book with decorative paper or fabric, just wrap it like a present. On the insides of the covers glue another piece of paper on top to cover the ugly-bits nicely. Really take a good look at some of your older, bound books. You’ll see a real artistry to it. One of these days, maybe in February, I’ll go over some more intricate book-binding options.

My friend's book on the left, my book on the right. Just punch holes through the covers and insides of the book, and you can bind.

The insides of the book? That’s up to you! You could share a favorite family story, a children’s story, draw a cartoon, paste some photographs… share some favorite poems, or leave it blank. Everyone needs notebooks!

Natasha Henderson, Montreal

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