Monday, August 02, 2010
the non-chapbook chapbook
Stone Mountain, GA
A bit of a disclaimer: I know Barbara Crooker. When I was booking poetry readings at Robin's in Philadelphia, I brought in Barbara to read back in 2002. She also served as the judge for the 2010 Plan B Press chapbook contest. We seen each other at events, I have gone to see her at readings.
This "chapbook", Obbligato, was her 6th collection. I have written in the past how fictitious it is to call a chapbook with a spine a book and yet some publishers determine that for whatever reason, that's exactly what they decide to do. Since I knew Barbara, I wrote her to get her take on this book.
When I asked what her intention as the author was for the book, she replied, "Oh, yes, it's definitely a chapbook, and was always intended to be a chapbook. It's possible the publisher wasn't aware of the difference, and/or he liked the elegance of the spine. I have quite a few chapbooks in my own collection that do have spines, for what it's worth. . . .". Indeed, the dilemma is here stated, authors are very aware of books that are outside of the form but also are very particular about what they envisioned with their work. Elsewhere Crooker wrote "but I have no idea why it has a spine (wasn't my idea, that much I do know)".
I mentioned to Barbara that there seemed to have been some issues with the lay-out, some pages where missing or mis-spaced. She was very aware of that situation as well, "Also, you might notice that the title poem has a "pasted-in" page after the first page. That's because he left page two out! I got him to fix it, I thought, but when I "inherited" the remaining copies, I found that they were all still blank. So I ran off some extra pages, and rubber-cemented them all in."
When I spoke about authors have little control over what a small press publisher might decide to do to represent the work, Barbara responded in a way that all poets who have dealt with publishers know all too well, " As for why/how anything gets done in publishing, don't ask the writers! We have no power! Sometimes, you don't know there are going to be problems until the end, when it's too late to do anything. . . ." Ain't it the truth!