Festival of Books: The new magnetic poetry -- you


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Along Trousdale Parkway on the USC campus is the making of the world’s largest refrigerator magnet project.

At Chapman University’s booth at the Festival of Books, you pick a word. Any word. Write it down, snap a photo, and your face and the word are uploaded into Chapman’s online database of ‘word magnets’ ready to be arranged into poetry.


“This is the beginning of writing … of how we write,’ said Mark Woodland, Chapman’s vice president for marketing.

On Chapman’s website, you can pull from any of the hundreds of words already uploaded to form a sort of human haiku, a collage of words and faces.

Your word can be a noun, an adjective, a number; it can be a word in another language or a word in a language you’ve made up. “Love” and “happy” were popular choices all day Saturday, but “we’ve had some very thoughtful words,” Woodland said. “Suddenly, that became a very powerful decision. People would stand here for minutes to come up with the word.”

“Create art inspire courage” and “pandas are awesome and this is happiness” are some examples of the word collages created online Saturday, during which Woodland estimated 600 people had snapped photos at the booth. The more people stop by with a word, the more words there will be to chose from to write a statement. “We might need to get some people to take photos of prepositions,” joked Woodland.

He plans to continue the project at Chapman’s 150th anniversary celebration Friday and at other events on campus through the fall, thus broadening the canon of their “refrigerator magnet poetry.’

To join the conversation, stop by Chapman’s booth (No. 226) all day Sunday, snap a photo with your own word, then go online and create a statement.


-- Megan Kimble

Photos, from top: Char Williams and her word, ‘terrifical’; Kimberly Ostorga, 17, of Los Angeles is photographed with her word, ‘Smurf.’ Credits: Megan Kimble / Los Angeles Times; Scott Martelle