Could I remake a book?

In his blog, PoetryReach, Niall Hickey discusses a workshop where the participants were asked to take a book and refashion it; to cut and paste it. The words that spring to mind are remade in your image, a bit biblical and something to be chased at a later date.

Im unsure that I could cut up a book. Hickey details his “reverence” and “personal culture” of books. I re imagined past bookshelves and their contents, and thought of their narratives in my life. As we physically deconstruct a text, with scissors or paint or glue, we physically reshape the story or myth. I understand that I would have to take a book, remake it reshape it, and be prepared to sever cherished, intimate and resonant connections with a well- loved or long-loved book. Much like Jane Austen with her editing scissors, I would lose something in pursuit of a perhaps improved and better alternative, reconnecting perhaps with the novel in ways different to previous readings.

But the question remains: Could I cut up a novel? Could I physically take a scissors to Jane Eyre, Persuasion or Pride and Prejudice? I could easily get replacement copies; indeed, I have duplicates.

Could I, dare I cut, re-cut, rip,shape, tear, paint over, insert objects into texts, that offered an adult window to my ten year old self; and offered a way into feminist discourse?

They are only artefacts and are as such, replaceable. Their stories, the authors and the loved ones who gifted us with books remain in our hearts. And yet, there is an extraordinary comfort to be had in leafing our way – page by page by page – in a book that was once held by those we love.


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