Aspiring poets learn how to compile a chapbook
Tuesday, May 15th, 2012
Five aspiring poets at Lawrence Tech learned about the process of publishing a chapbook of poetry in a creative writing class taught by Senior Lecturer Sara Lamers in the spring term.
It was a traditional creative writing course in which students intensively drafted, revised, and polished original poetry. Thanks to a grant from the Coleman Foundation, the students also learned about publishing and producing an actual poetry chapbook.
The term “chapbook” grew from English “chapmen,” peddlers who sold inexpensive pamphlets throughout the late 1500s up until the mid-1800s.These small pamphlets contained poems, ballads, stories, or folklore. Because these pamphlets were cheaply produced and affordable for the masses.
Today a chapbook is a short poetry collection of 16-25 pages, as opposed to a full-length collection, which is 50-80 pages long. Typically the poems are linked by a clear theme. The chapbook is generally still modestly produced, but it is a respected publication in the poetry world.
“It’s often a way to get a foot in the door, as many poets publish a chapbook before pursuing a full-length collection,” Lamers said.
She modified the course by adding a module to explore the various publication avenues available to students, who received instruction in the “how to’s” and the “do’s and don’ts” of submission. They examined the editorial aesthetic of a top-tier journal of their choice and prepared their own work to submit to a literary journal.
The course culminated in the self-publication of a chapbook that contained poems linked by a common theme. Each student was responsible for ordering the poems and titling the collection, as well as writing an introduction for the chapbook of a peer.
Lawrence Tech graphic design students assisted in the layout and design of the books.
Students disseminated the finished product at a May 9 presentation attended by Provost Maria Vaz and Dean of Arts and Sciences Hsiao-Ping Moore. Each student discussed the theme of his or her chapbook and read a few poems.
The students and titles of their chapbooks: