A couple of years ago I read Pablo Neruda's The Book of Questions for the first time. The questioning mode of it really clicked with me, and for a while I wrote nothing but question poems. Eventually I started recording answers, too, wherever I found them -- in books, in conversations overheard on the bus, in song lyrics, etc. The growing collection is called Given Timbuk?: A new book of questions. And now I have the first concrete result to share -- an altered book called Given Timbuk? #1.
I started with a copy of the 1965 edition of Marshall Lee's textbook of book design, Bookmaking: The illustrated guide to design & production. On the outside I altered the cover and spine to reflect the new title. Inside, I glued together the entire text block and hollowed it out with a slot in the top edge, like a piggy bank. When displaying the book now, I provide blank slips of paper for people to add their own questions or answers by depositing them into the book.
I added my own texts in the form of two small accordion-fold pamphlets pasted down to the inside of the book's back cover. One of the pamphlets features questions from the project; the other has answers.
Given Timbuk? #1 debuted at the 2009 BookOpolis show in Asheville. I wasn't sure how folks would respond to the interactive part, but by the end of the opening the book was packed full of handwritten slips. Some of the questions they contributed are hilarious, some of them are heartbreaking -- I'll be sharing some soon in a future post.
Now that the book has returned from Asheville we have it on display at the library where I work, open to more contributions from students and patrons.
See more photos here. Hope you enjoy!