Memory Lane Chapbook News: The Hours of Us

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In many ways, chapbooks have long been—and remain to this day—the lifeblood of poetry publishing. According to the online Oxford English Dictionary, a chapbook is historically “a small pamphlet containing tales, ballads, or tracts, sold by peddlers.”

Wikipedia has way more on the subject of the chapbook, noting that these publications are generally up to about forty pages in length and generally bound with a saddle stitch: “The tradition of chapbooks arose in the 16th century, as soon as printed books became affordable, and rose to its height during the 17th and 18th centuries. Many different kinds of ephemera and popular or folk literature were published as chapbooks, such as almanacs, children’s literature, ballads, nursery rhymes, pamphlets, poetry, and political and religious tracts.” Examples include Thomas Paine’s The Rights of Man—which was reprinted in chapbook form for years after its publication in 1791—and David Walker’s Appeal, in Four Articles; Together with a Preamble, to the Colored Citizens of the World, but in Particular, and Very Expressly, to Those of the United States of America, Written in Boston, State of Massachusetts, September 28, 1829.

In its current North American usage, a chapbook is generally “a small paperback booklet, typically containing poems or fiction.” And, indeed, way back in 2007, my first print publication was a chapbook, The Hours of Us, published by Finishing Line Press. It was a semi-finalist in their New Women’s Voices Series Chapbook Competition that year as well.

Finishing Line Press is an award-winning small press publisher based in Georgetown, Kentucky. Other friends have also had their chapbooks published by Finishing Line including Kristin Berger’s “For the Willing” and Lisa Meunier’s “Hitching to Istanbul.” Their author list is extensive, and they continue to champion new and emerging poets. Many of their authors have won awards and prizes, too.

All praise to the stalwart folks who champion the little books of poetry hither and yon. They are keeping the art and craft of poetry more than alive and well!

Nancy Flynn
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