Every chapbook has one - or many. Every author has one, every publisher has another. Every artist whose image or work adorns a chapbook cover has a different one. Books are often dedicated to someone, they each has one as well. Many people list the places where individual poems have previously appears, be it journal or magazine. Guess what? Each of those publications have their own back stories to tell. Publications as run and edited by people with different lives than the poet. Ripples across a still pond. And then you, the reader, pick up a chapbook and flip through it or study the cover or see if it's signed or written in at all. Layers of complexity, endless things to note or think about, or research.
That's where I end up going : into the rabbit's hole. Peeling onion skin layers down to the nub of nothingness. To this thin slice of nothingness that chapbooks are anyway. This is my endeavor which I have opened up for others to observe, witness, and possibly connect with. I am surprised by what is responded to, and what isn't. I guess most publishers feel the same way; it's a crapshoot. One really doesn't know what is going to "sell" or be written about, or connect with people.
This is especially true of the small presses that specialize in chapbooks and the poets who work best in that form. Allan Kornblum was great at it when he started Toothpaste Press. He ran that pony as far as it would go and then re-imaged the Press right into Coffee House Press. There are so many others. The guys behind Mimeo Mimeo do an incredible service in helping to name names and list small presses. Still....I wonder when the actual "revolution" began - which is the first press or operation to use the mimeograph for poetry? How did that all start?
We are the children of those first innovators. Those of us who collect, read, publish chapbooks. We walk a path that they blazed.