“What Follows” & What is Left Behind 

This image shows a picture of Joseph Massey’s Chapbook, entitled “What Follows.”

We discussed how often a book is seen as an object. And how most of the time, that object is not questioned or examined much in today’s settings due to the average selling standard of books. But the book as an object can do a lot to help tell its meanings. Joseph Massey connects multiple parts of his chapbook, “It Follows,” as an object to its figurative forms in its contents. 

A large part of Massey’s poems focuses on litter and how long it stays before decaying. One poem even says about how an old plastic plate is mistaken for moss and lichen. His chapbook, although made of different types of paper, feels very sturdy and lasting in your hands. This is due to its cardstock cover that covers over a fly leaf sheet of the same material. Personally, while I do understandably believe this is for structure, I was very fascinated about how this cover and fly leaf were set up. It seemed like the fly leaf was originally the cover, until a new, block printed cover was glued on. 

The above image is a picture showing the cover and fly leaf previously mentioned. As you can see, the book has staple binding. The true cover is longer so that it can fold over the cardstock fly leaf.

The cover also features a block print of a broken, run-down window that is surrounded in very tall, weed-like plants. This cover image welcomes you into the story if its poetic contents. 

The paper itself ties into its poems. The back of the book has a section that mentions all of the paper that created the book itself are made from recycled litter. The papers, especially the yellow sheets, still have some visible little specks and marks from the items it was made from. So not only does the book feel sturdy and lasting like long–lasting plastics, but it itself is made FROM litter.  It is a creation from contents that connect it to the book’s own writing contents.

4 thoughts on ““What Follows” & What is Left Behind ”

  1. I love your focus on the paper, and how that paper connects the form of the book with its content. Paper is such an understated form of expression, but it can be so significant, especially in a book with environmental overtones, like the one you analyzed here. The specks on the paper add life and character to it, presenting it as more than just a blank canvas for the author, but as an integral part of the book – as both object and content.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. While cinema has the advantage of utilizing visual and sound, and has adopted diverse means of telling their stories or messages, I find it fascinating when a book could convey its message in more than just its text or even illustrations. Equating the paper material with the pro-environmental messages of the poems opens up new ways to look at literature.

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  3. I love your title! I find it interesting that you stated that many of Massey’s poems focus on litter and how long it says before decaying. I feel like this chapbook encompasses a comprehensive and strong meaning about our world-and your title could not have been better suited for this piece! Your description of this chapbook is also very descriptive and really allows me to visualize this book as if I were holding it. I think this chapbook cover is fascinating because it features a block print of a broken, run-down window surrounded by tall weed-like plants. It is captivating how you state that is cover image welcomes you into the story as its poetic contents.

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  4. I love the full circle that you traced here between the poetics and the book form! Cast-offs and remnants as inscribed not only in the imagery of the book but in the recycled paper, and in the construction of the cover/flyleaf. Very cool, observant post, Matis.


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