Saturday, September 29, 2012

Unrest: What is a Chapbook?

Unrest (no leather included)

A creative writing student asked me in class if “poetry chapbooks” were connected to “chaps.” She continued, “Sounds like you’ve written the sexiest book of poetry ever!”
I wouldn’t mind my poetry being sexy, but there’s no leather involved in this chapbook.

Poetry chapbooks are smaller, less expensive collections of poetry that are easily distributed. Unrest is twenty-four pages long (most of the poems fit on a single page; a few are longer poems.)

There’s a long history behind poetry chapbooks. Originally, their content wasn’t limited to poetry and the handmade books were distributed by traveling peddlers. Sam Riedel writes:

There is a considerable amount of contention over the true source of the word “chapbook.” Scholars of Anglo-Saxon history and language contend that the prefix “chap-” is derived from the ancient word “ceap,” while others maintain it is merely a corruption of “cheap;” however, most attribute the word’s popularity to the chapman—European peddler, reporter, and rogue-of-all-trades from the 16th to at least the 18th century. During the intervening years, the chapbook morphed in size and intention to its modern form: a slim, inexpensive poetry volume of interest to casual readers and avid collectors alike.

After printing presses and other technological advances have made it easier to distribute books, the form has shifted some. In regards to more recent history, Noah Eli Gordon writes:

Distanced from its historical roots, the form of the chapbook found new life in the burgeoning world of modern poetry, in which pamphlets from the international Dada movement and beautifully designed works of Russian avant-garde poets set a new standard. Continuing through Allen Ginsberg’s Howl and Other Poems, the mimeo revolution of the 60s, the advent of photocopying and desktop publishing, and the production of PDF files containing the online equivalent, the chapbook now thrives in the esoteric though open space of contemporary poetry. From work that is self-published and stapled to studiously letter-pressed and hand-stitched, and whether published in conjunction with a reading series, like those of Belladonna Books in New York City, as part of a subscription service, like the output of Ugly Duckling Presse, or as an offshoot of a larger publishing project, like Sarabande’s Quarternote Chapbooks or even Rain Taxi’s own Brainstorm Series, the chapbook constitutes a crucial nexus of the poetry community.

As a poetry chapbook author, I’m proud to be a part of such a tradition.  

Learn more about Unrest, my poetry chapbook forthcoming from Finishing Line Press and now available for pre-sale

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Unrest: Editing Thanks to Amy Bucklin of Clear Sky Writing

In the writing classes I teach, we discuss the importance of editing and revising as students draft their papers and peer edit each other’s work. I always say that self-editing is one of the hardest things to do. By gaining practice peer editing work by others, writers strengthen their editing skills and can, in turn, become better self-editors.

The other lesson is that everyone, from beginning to seasoned writers, need an editor. Including me.

When it came time to submit the final manuscript for publication to Finishing Line Press, I started to doubt myself. I suddenly lost all memory of grammatical rules about which I usually feel confident. Sure, I had drafted, revised, edited and redrafted the individual poems and the manuscript as a whole before submitting to the press, but I wanted to be sure that each word, space, line break and punctuation mark was exactly right before the book was published.

That’s where Amy Bucklin from Clear Sky Writing came in. Amy read through my manuscript carefully. She offered great feedback about individual words, spacing, even italics in the titles, and punctuation. It was a great relief to know that someone besides myself (and a few other friends and family members, to whom I’m very grateful) interrogated the marks on the pages.

Thank you again to Amy, a dear friend from our undergraduate days at Smith College, for her amazing work and calming approach.

If you are looking for Copywriting, Copyediting and Proofreading Services, I strongly recommend Amy Bucklin of Clear Sky Writing.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Unrest: Story of a Cover

Unrest, my poetry chapbook from Finishing Line Press (now available for preorder) describes the emotional and physical unrest that follows a loss. I hoped the cover would show both the lights and darks of these poems. After all, lights and darks only exist because of their contrast with the other.

My husband, Hans Noel, designed the cover, using a photograph that my mother, Melabee M. Miller, had taken. I love how our arts combine on the cover of my first published collection of poetry.

I also love the simplicity – the sky, something we see everyday – and the surprise inherent in the color variation. The white space breaking the image adds to the unrest of what has the potential to be either a very sunny or stormy sky.

And skies like this exist. Just the other day, I looked out our front windows and saw similar clouds billowing over the buildings across the street. The evening was cool and the threatening rains never came. 

Thank you again to my husband and mother for helping to create the cover.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Announcing: Unrest, a poetry chapbook by Chloe Yelena Miller

I’m excited to announce that my first poetry chapbook, Unrest, will be published by Finishing Line Press January, 2013. Unrest illustrates the experience of loss through food, foreign language, travel, visual art, and more. This collection allows what once was to be resuscitated.

This is a limited edition collection, and pre-publication sales will determine the press run. If you are interested, I hope you will consider purchasing a copy during this pre-sale period.

RenĂ©e Ashley, author of Basic Heart, writes of Unrest, These poems rest easily in the world because they are so much of it: family, love and loss, mixed inextricably in the crucible of food, of consideration and preparation, literal and figurative, of artichokes and lemon water, tomatoes, figs, of guava paste on dry toast, foods that seduce and sustain us.”

Thomas Lux, author of Child Made of Sand, says, “This is an exceptional debut by a young poet unafraid of being understood while at the same time writing with utter originality. Read this book!”

For a preview, click through to read these previously published poems:

Will You in Storyscape 

Color of the Sea in Cortland Review

The First in WordArrangement

Salty in the Examiner

East Coast readings and book signings are scheduled for this winter and spring. Click through to see when I'll be reading near you. 

Thank you for your support.