What is a chapbook?
A chapbook is a small paperback containing poems tales, ballads, or tracts.
How long is a chapbook
A chapbook is typically 25 - 40 pages long. How many poems in a chapbook typically are determined with the number of pages as the standard is 1 poem per page.
A chapbook can contain any manner of different topics. Great poem topics include:
- Poems about life
- poems about relationships
- poems about animals
- nature poems
- poems about overcoming challenging times
- poems about failure and redemption
You should write about what moves you.
The humble chapbook has been experiencing a cult-like resurgence in recent years, as poets and other writers have begun reviving this vintage bookmaking method as a means for publishing smaller works. In a world of big-box corporate stores and mass production, those with an appreciation for the finer details are turning to chapbooks for their uniqueness, bite-size richness, and for the custom look and feel they provide. Poetry chapbooks make the perfect unique gift ideas.
By all accounts, chapbooks hail from the streets of London, were sold by chapmen--you know, the old "chaps" who sold books--and they most often contained short stories, ballads, children's stories, and, of course, poetry. Because they are inexpensive to produce, they have retained their usefulness to up and coming artists, but they've become popular of late with even larger publishing houses, some of whom host chapbook contests as a means to discover new talent.
Chapbooks Make Great Gifts
I love giving (and receiving!) presents that are full of history and artistry, which is what makes the chapbook so perfect as a gift. Not to mention, having a few chapbooks laying around on your coffee table, in the bathroom, or on display on your bookshelf will give your guests a glimpse of your intellectual taste and provide some meaningful conversation.
This may be going out on a limb here, but I'd put chapbooks in the same category as a small box of distinctive dark chocolates or a good bottle of wine because they demonstrate a level of taste and require some research to find just the right one for the person you are gifting.
For the person who enjoys poetry, the obvious choice would be a poetry chapbook. But most people don't walk around talking about their love for poetry, so how do you know if someone loves this literary form? In truth, they may not know they love poetry. But if they can recite bars from their favorite hip hop songs, or better yet, freestyle their own, they're most likely a poetry lover in disguise.
Sometimes people don't know they love poetry until they stumble upon a gifted poet who expresses perfectly something they know to be true. For example, someone who is passionate about social justice would most likely connect with black poets like Nikki Giovanni, the Last Poets, Gil Scott Heron, and "Reparations," from yours truly, Rafa Selase. Someone who loves reading scripture and listening to gospel music would similarly enjoy the Psalm-like content in Selase's "Fruit," which is both a song and a book based on the fruits of the Holy Spirit.
Whatever the person's taste, whether they love poetry or not, perhaps the best way to know if someone would enjoy a poetry chapbook is if that person enjoys discussing ideas on a deeper level, is inspired by art and music, and gravitates to unique articles of clothing or other things that express their individualism. The person may be quiet... you know the saying, "still waters run deep." It may be the perfect way to reach someone you've had a difficult time connecting with. It may be the most sincere gift that a person has received. Don't get caught up on the price of the gift. It's the meaning behind it that truly delivers.
How to publish a chapbook?
Publishing a chapbook is not as complex as writing a book. If you have a simple word processor on your computer you can start today.