Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Beauty of the Chapbook: Alluring and Real

Beautiful Chapbook by Annette Spaulding-Convy

As I prepare to co-teach a workshop on From Manuscript into Book, I wanted to share this post by Erica Mena (thank you to Angie Vorhies for sharing this with me) about the allure of the chapbook. Erica offers a wonderful meditation on the often handmade and fleeting nature of the chapbook (it can be hard to find in bookstores --- unless you live in Seattle).

Mena also mentions a chapbook/zine membership. If you are considering publishing a chapbook it is absolutely necessary that you see, touch, and feel the other chapbooks the publisher has made.

My absolute favorite chapbook press for poets is in Washington State  Floating Bridge Press now sporting a snappy new website.  Annette Spaulding-Convy won the Floating Bridge Chapbook Award several years ago. In both form and content, this is my favorite chapbook. It is brilliantly ordered and in one sitting takes you into a world of convents and compassion.

Here's the opening of Erica Mena's post:

**I drafted this post a few weeks ago, and wanted to have more in my spreadsheet before publishing, but CLMP just announced a new chapbook/zine membership which you can read about here and I figured I should just get this posted.**

I’ve been into chapbooks for a long time. Pretty much since I started working in literary publishing as the senior editor for the fascinating Arrowsmith Press, edited by Askold Melnyczuk. There’s a lot to love about them. One of the things I love most about chapbooks is their size – just long enough to seriously engage with, but short enough to read in one sitting. The brevity of the form leads to books that cohere in a more satisfying way to me than many full-length collections do. Especially in poetry, but I think also in cross-genre, short-fiction and the literary essay. I think of a chapbook like a really great album (ok, now I sound old, but I worked in a music store for a while, and yeah, it was sort of like Empire Records). A great chapbook, like a great album that has an arc to it, a movement, thoughtfulness, even perhaps an argument (implicit or explicit). Where a lot of full-length collections are more like a best-of, or a comprehensive catalog, a chapbook can establish an internal poetics and logic that is often impossible for longer works.

Another thing I love about the chapbook is the ephemeral quality of it, as a physical object. A lot of chapbooks are small, handmade objects that are out of place in bookstores. I can only think of a handful of bookstores that even consider carrying chapbooks, and even then they are sort of hard to spot, as spineless as they often are. Of course, that’s usually enough to intrigue me when I’m browsing, but I imagine they get overlooked more often than not. They’re often made in extremely limited editions,

To read the rest of this wonderful article go to Erica Mena's wonderful website Alluringly

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