Iowa Alumni Magazine | April 2011 | Reviews

My Big Book of Poetry

By UIAA Staff
An unusual literary offering takes up residence in UI Libraries' Special Collections.

PHOTO: TOM LANGDON

Ten thousand pages in 100 days. That was Iowa City poet David Morice's challenge last year—to create a massive book through a record-breaking poetry marathon.

"Dr. Alphabet" did not disappoint.

In honor of Iowa City's designation as a UNESCO "City of Literature," Morice (a.k.a. Dr. Alphabet, sometimes referred to as the P.T. Barnum of Poetry) penned a 10,000-page book titled Poetry City Marathon. From July through October, he wrote 100 pages of poetry for 100 days as the highlight of a UI Main Library exhibit about the Iowa Writers' Workshop and the Actualist Poetry Movement (founded by Morice, 72MFA, 87MA, and a group of other Iowa City poets in 1973).

At two-feet thick—quite possibly the largest single-volume book ever bound—Poetry City Marathon now makes its home
in Special Collections at the UI Libraries, where anyone can request to browse its pages. Staff in the library's preservation department took great pains to bind the book, even building a special press to bring the pages together. Over the course of four days, the book took 24 hours to bind, a process that included assembling the text into smaller units before binding the whole thing with the custom press.

Although a bit cumbersome to handle, the book still is manageable as long as readers prop boards under the shorter cover for balance. Preservation Department head Nancy Kraft says many people have stopped by to see the tome, which will make a special public appearance this July when Iowa City hosts its annual book festival. By then, the volume could have gained even more fame, as Kraft plans to submit it to the Guinness Book of World Records for possible recognition as the world's thickest book ever published.