Sunday, January 07, 2007

Chapbooks and The Guardian

Chris Morton has an interesting article in The Guardian Online about the evolution of chapbooks. He argues that blogs are the chapbook’s true successors. I think he has a point and I’m glad he’s brought the subject up.

But in the comments, I couldn’t not make the point that chapbooks are still very much alive and kicking in the world of poetry publishing and have been important both to new and established poets.


Ben Wilkinson said...

I completely agree, Rob - Frances Leviston and James Sheard's pamphlets/chapbooks from Mews Press helped introduce me to two excellent emerging poets. And Clutag Press publish excellent chapbooks from the likes of Mick Imlah and Seamus Heaney. I think Morton's argument is a tad indefensible. And as a point of protest, and because I've been saying to myself for a while that I'll get round to it, I'm going to order The Clown of Natural Sorrow.

Rob said...

I think his ideas that digital and online media could be the successor to chapbooks is interesting, although I wanted to point out that there is still plenty of life in the paper variety.

Thanks for ordering The Clown of Natural Sorrow. There are 300 copies in the world and every copy sold means one less cluttering up (HappenStance editor) Helena Nelson's hallway and may even keep her solvent enough to publish more poetry.

Matt Merritt said...

I agree with the points you made to him, Rob. I think there's also the fact, which you touched on, that a chapbook is not just for emerging poets. The more of them I read, the more I think they are often much more coherent and consistent in quality than a lot of full collections. They're also ideal for sequences of poems.
I think, where full-size books is concerned, there's a tendency to pad things out with filler. It's a bit like the old double-albums thing, where a lot of them had a decent single album inside struggling to get out. Or the way that bands now feel obliged to fill a CD with material, regardless of whether they've it's good enough.

Cailleach said...

That's a good point about chapbooks being a convenient size for poetry cycles, or sequences. And their size makes them really handy for slipping in your pocket for a quick read every now and then

Matt Merritt said...

That's another good point. I always tend to have two books of poetry on the go. Something chunky, which stays on the coffee table or next to my bed, and a chapbook, which travels with me for reading at lunch, tea-breaks, waiting for buses etc.