Friday, February 27, 2009

A Wee but Potent Thing

In the United States, a small collection of poems is published in a chapbook. In the United Kingdom, a small collection of poems is published in a pamphlet. Small here means anywhere from 18 to 28 poems, if most of the poems fit on one or two pages. Typically a chapbook will be no more than 30 pages altogether. In the U.S., the chapbook is not at all unusual. In the U.K., the pamphlet is finding its way back into acceptable circles. As this article by Jackie Kay in The Guardian points out, Ted Hughes made use of the pamphlet years ago. Here is an excerpt which doesn't mention Ted Hughes:

The poetry pamphlet has always been a good way for new poets to reach an audience. Many of today's well-known poets were first published in pamphlet form – or have at different times in their career enjoyed the delicacy and artistry of a small pamphlet. They are the connoisseur's version of a very tasty starter. Straight away, they give you a sense of somebody, an idea of their voice, just enough to make you know that you'd like more – or not. Oh My Rub!, for example, made me want to read more, as did many of the wonderful pamphlets published by Smith/Doorstop. (Poetry Business run by Peter Sansom et al has been doing great pamphlet work for years.)
Read the full article at The Guardian.

Many thanks to Carrie Etter who posted about the article in the Guardian at her blog.

Susan Settlemyre Williams has reviewed four chapbooks at Blackbird which is a joint venture of the Department of English at Virginia Commonwealth University and New Virginia Review, Inc. You can read the reviews online.

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