Tom Jenks: Spiral Texts








Tom Jenks: These pieces are part of a series called Spiral Texts, which are visual translations plotting letter frequency. The visualisations begin at the centre with the first section of text (usually chapters but cantos in Dante). The first bar shows the number of ‘a’s, the second the number of ‘b’s and so on through to ‘z’. The second set of bars (delineated by a change in colour) repeats the process for the second section of text and this continues until the end of the book. Spiral Texts are produced by a portmanteau procedure using Microsoft Excel, SQL Server and Tableau Desktop. I thought them particularly appropriate for Dante, given their circular nature.



Tom Jenks’ books include A Long and Hard Night Troubled by Visions (if p then q, 2018), Spruce (Blart Books, 2016) and An Anatomy of Melancholy (Sad Press, 2016), a Twitter re-imagining of Robert Burton’s The Anatomy of Melancholy (1621). Pack My Box with Five Dozen Liquor Jugs, a pangrammatic novel with Catherine Vidler, will be published soon by Penteract Press. His work has recently appeared in Poetry Review and The Penguin Book of Oulipo. He edits zimZalla, a small press specialising in literary objects. More at


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