Book lovers love words, and a number of sidelines manufacturers are currently offering fun new products to satisfy their passion.
The original Magnetic Poetry Kit was created in 1993 by Dave Kapell as a tool for writing song lyrics. It has since spawned a trillion refrigerator poets in eight tongues, including sign language, via a staggering array of thematic collections such as Romance, Dog Lover, Shakespearean, Erotic and the South, and in several sizes, from the standard small proportions to Bumper-Poet dimensions and Really Big Words. Capitalizing on the recent school-age backpack mania, Magnetic Poetry has also appeared in clip-on mini-kits ranging in motif from the verbal Friends Forever, Hugs & Kisses and Smile to Rant & Rave, Wild Things and Superstar to traditional games such as backgammon, checkers, chess, dominoes and tick-tack-toe. New kits based on imagery include the photographic Freaky Faces and Portraits, and the abstract Shapes. Educational kits abound.
What could possibly be next for Magnetic Poetry in Minneapolis, Minn.? Well, those innovative Minnesotans have taken the magnetic poetry concept several giant steps further. Available this spring and summer are Magnetic Poetry: The Game, a fast-paced board game of word play; Poetry Beads, a kit for making necklaces, bracelets and more using over 75 two-sided word beads; Sidewalk Poet, complete with spray bottle, spray color and stencils to create original sayings on sidewalk or driveway; and the Magnetic Poetry 2002 Calendar, which includes exercises, quotes and an attached magnetic board with 200 magnetic word tiles.
Best of show goes to the company's new Poetry Stones Kit, which takes concrete poetry to its most literal level as decorative, word-bearing cobblestones. The kit is ideal for gardeners with a literary bent or for anyone who wants to create distinctive borders, garden paths, plant labels, pet memorials and even address blocks. The kit contains all the necessities: 40 press-in letters, numbers and punctuation; five cobblestone forms of different lengths (from 31/2 to 137/8 in.) and one adjustable form (up to 15 in. by 15 in.); three concrete pigment packets—terra-cotta, buff and gray; one three-pound trial sample of concrete mix; a wooden-handled trowel, gloves, craft stick, a Magnetic Poetry Gardener Kit (to assist the muse), instruction booklet and reusable storage box. Forms and letters can be reused indefinitely with additional concrete mix from any hardware store. What fun—Sissinghurst ho! Call (800) 370-7697, fax (612) 638-1079, www.magneticpoetry.com.
Mine Design, of Beverly Hills, Calif., creators of funky desk, wall and magnetic refrigerator clocks; glass pushpins and magnets sporting amusing words and images; and magnetic masterpiece (of art) puzzles, presents Bodytalk, temporary word tattoo kits for those who want their bodies to be their billboards. Bodytalk comes in three versions: Original (to express the inner poet or philosopher), Romantic (to evoke love, romance and steamy affairs) and Phrases (to mix or match popular sayings and sound bytes). Each kit, packaged in a stylish metal tin, comes with over 800 words, letters and symbols plus instructions. Simply cut out the desired words or phrases, arrange on any area of the body (except near eyes and mouth) and apply to the skin using water. At last, a grown-up alternative to kids' temporary tattoos. Call (800) 973-0555, fax (310) 914-3205.
What combines letter-writing, journal- and diary-keeping, e-mail, greeting cards, pen pal messages and scrapbooks? A Circle Journey Correspondence Kit. Circle Journey founder Paul Westrick, of Columbus, Ohio, wanted a way to communicate with adult siblings scattered around the globe. His solution: a single book, sent from one person to another. From his personal experience, Circle Journey Books was born. The cover art of each of the kit's 12 books is color-keyed according to its theme. For a personalized introduction, the sender can insert a photograph or drawing behind the transparent vellum sheet covering the first pages. The back pocket contains stickers, like "confidential" and "handle with care," plus photo corner stickers for mounting treasures within the volume's 60 pages of acid-free recycled paper. Kits include the book, stickers, envelopes, a keepsake box and an idea starter brochure. Cover designs are graphically appealing and varied to suit a range of tastes. These books are effective vehicles for very personal, old-fashioned communication. Call (614) 297-7000, fax (614) 297-7795, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, www.circlejourney.com.
Tin Design, of Boston, introduces Bob's Your Uncle, a line of greeting cards, calendars, T-shirts and mugs featuring words, served up with wit and bold graphics. Greeting cards cover holidays, birthdays, get well wishes, bon voyage, new baby, wedding and zodiac signs. A series of Smiley Cards plays with punctuation to create facial expressions well beyond the usual e-mail symbols. Wall and desk calendars and mugs feature words describing typical zodiac sign characteristics ("Aries dynamic impulsive adventurous cynic"). T-shirts sport the phrase "Bob's your uncle," a popular phrase in the U.K., home of the company's founder, Martin Yeeles. The phrase has an amusing origin: Robert Cecil (Bob) was a 19th-century British prime minister who appointed family members to government posts. Thus, if Bob was your uncle... everything was just fine. As are these products. Call (617) 504-5220, fax (617) 868-4315, www.tindesign.com