Tuesday, April 18, 2006

beginning thoughts

By chapbook I mean any printed material between 3 and 48 pages. Anything between 1-3 pages would be a broadside or a pamphlet. Anything over 48 pages would generally be published with a spine and that declassifies it as a "chapbook". The thing about the appearance of a chapbook is that is it easily lost when placed spine-out as most books are in either a bookstore or a library. With the exception of specifically designed book racks that allow for chapbooks to be "face out", or front cover visible, most chapbooks end up little slivers of nothing when displayed normally.

As a publisher who specializes in this form, I am of course drawn to its merits and complications but the reason for this blog is the intense interest I have come to have for chapbooks after having the pleasure of hearing/witnessing the poet Susan Howe present work from her book 'The Midnight' at George Mason University during the spring 2005 term. Hearing her and then purchasing a copy of that book and reading it for myself, did me in.

I was hooked all over again. The chapbook form has contributed to the publishing success of many fine poets and artists over the years and has also been a leading form for the small / DIY publishing firms that have grown through the cracks of the publishing world to present work not being represented elsewhere.

This blog will serve as an investigation into authors, presses, individual books, and the scenes where the work developed. For example, I saw a small chapbook of da levy's work in a used bookstore in Williamsburg, VA selling for $500.00. Why? Primarily due to the scarity of his original work and the fact that he died so young. How many other poets had collections of their work published as chapbooks and then disappeared completely from view? Moved, marriage, changed their lives or died before any recognition came from their efforts?

Fortunately for me, I have been gathering chapbooks for years which makes the beginning of this voyage easier, however I have not yet begun to haunt used bookstores or flea markets, or yard sales in an effort to find those relics lost below the radar screen of public awareness and discuss work that should never have gone missing to begin with.

so, let's begin....