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DIY Poetry Publishing Cooperative

June 15, 2006

In the guise of a review of Kira Henehan's Seven Palms . . .

. . . Jordan Davis also takes the opportunity to articulate the scarcity economy of the poetry chapbook, & offer his opinion about why they're often where "it" is "at."

For the ambitious perfectionist poet--that is, every one you will ever meet -- the chapbook's the paradox of thrift: Although more likely than a book-book aka full-length collection to come through a perfect living text object, the chapbook does not, cannot exist in the open market of bookstores, prizes, and tenure track teaching positions. Try getting a copy-shop box of stapled items past TSA sometime--in these metal-detecting times, staples = suspicion. And on the converse, read a recent vintage book-book a day for a month and let me know what ratio of greatest hits to filler you come up with. (I'm seeing one-to-five on average. Higher than that ought to make anyone's list.)

Chapbook distribution comes down to mailing lists and event sales. Friendliness, and calculation. As with anything else in poetry, reviews and press may somehow miraculously light on a chapbook, but until someone builds a real paypal portal for micropresses, good luck tracking down that promising beta. Here's where the paradox comes in. Exasperation saved me from too much undergraduate study of economics, but I seem to remember something about scarcity . . . it's impossible to read let alone judge what it's impossible to find. The odds are always long and the circumstances often murky, but a perfect little chapbook nevertheless has a chance at generating some spark of mystique, buzz, quiddity. That which thrills readers with the illusion that time spent reading poetry is a wise use of the present moment.

Read the rest here.*

Then click on over to Ugly Ducking, Effing, Chuckwagon Editions (no site: hit Sean Casey's blog to get in touch), & Ryan Murphy (where does one find Ryan Murphy's one-off chaps, or is that mystery, like, the point?) for the chaps singled out for special CC love.

UPDATE: Ryan Murphy says McNally Robinson bookstore carries the chaps, so get thee to Soho, New Yorkers.

*Yo Constant Critic, why no permalinks on new reviews till they go to archive? I deduced from the archives what it's gonna be, but a link would be terrific.

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