Friday, February 13, 2009



FEBRUARY 13, 2009

Big Love, Little Books [by Emma Trelles]


I've been pretty smitten with chapbooks as of late. They are, for the most part, so lovely to look at, so meaty to hold. I especially admire all the effort put into the original artwork, the linen covers, the pages layed out at night on living room computers. Fonts with names like spells or the creatures who cast them: Garamond, Trebuchet, Zapf Humanist, and Medusa. I love how chapbooks are stapled/glued/stitched together, or how POD services have gifted the littlest of presses with the power to put more chaps out into the world. Good, I say. We need them.


In his blog at Pecan Grove Press, Palmer Hall describes the best of chapbooks as  "excellent short stories or like a one-person art exhibit at which each painting informs the next and the one before." I also like to think of them as a rocking E.P., something yourfavorite band might put out between full length records just so you can hear what they're up to.

In his survey on chapbook history, Noah Eli Gordon says the term chapbook most likely came from the rogue peddlers that sold them (and sundry bits) while travelling through towns in the 16th through 19th centuries. Chapmen could frequently be found "bedding in barns, fleeing from dogs, and fending off thefts from other road scoundrels. Yet the visit of a chapman to a rural village, though tinged with suspicion, was a welcome occasion, as he provided many with their sole link to the rest of world, both in his wares and his gossip, a kind of Johnny Appleseed of early literary education."

Booksellers as outlaws. Sounds sort  


Here's a list of chapbooks well worth the read. If anyone has their own picks they'd like to share, please post them.

I Give You this Ghost, by Jesse Millner.        Pudding House Publications

Bud Break at Mango House, by Jen Karetnick.Portlandia Group

First Things to Hand, by Robert Pinsky.
A Merciful Bed, by Lisa Glatt & David Hernandez.Pearl Editions
Behind Our Memories, by Michael Hettich.
Narcissus Resists, by Matthew Hittinger.
Jane-in-the-Box, by Rita Maria Martinez.
Hesitant Commitments, by Pris Campbell. Lummox Press
The Night Tito Trinidad KO'ed Ricardo Mayorga, by Kevin A. Gonzalez.Momotombo Press
257 More Reasons to Have Sex, by Denise Duhamel & Sandy McIntosh.Otoliths
Passage to America, by Elisa Albo. March Street Press
This Is What Happened In Our Other Life, by Achy Obejas. A Midsummer Night's Press
672 Hours, (e-chap) by Andrew Demcak. Gold Wake Press
Mangrovia, by Campbell McGrath. Short Line Editions
Superman, by Dorianne Laux. Red Dragonfly Press
Visionware, by Caridad McCormick. Finishing Line Press

No comments: