Chapbooks, Publishing

Delights from Stamped Books

About a year ago, I contributed to a Kickstarter campaign by Stamped Books. They were looking to raise funds to buy a tabletop letterpress. By me, that’s a damn worthy endeavor. Their campaign was successful, and as a thank-you, I received an envelope full of their publications this past spring. Finally, this summer, I got around to reading and inspecting them. I am a big fan of the D.I.Y. and the handmade, and I love the way Stamped Books has hand-stamping on all of their projects. I appreciate anything that makes individual copies in a limited press run more unique.

I look forward to continuing to follow the work of Stamped Books and other such fun & inventive presses.

Here are some of the goodies they sent me:

Big Women Big Girls by Cate Stevens-Davis, a memorable collection of short-shorts, bound with a beautiful excess of embroidery floss.


Spare Scrap by Claire Barbetti, part of which is a great little essay in which Barbetti explores the historical notion(s) of ekphrasis as well as her own: “Again, ekphrasis is not only a literary genre as it has been commonly understood, but a practice that engages the nuts and bolts of representation: what it means to translate an image — or more precisely, the experience of viewing an image — into words and text.” The way this thing is put together — so many fun folds, two little booklets hand sewn in — lovely. I think a couple of folds/pages may have gotten out of order, but I was able to suss it out.


How to Ride a Bike in Pittsburgh by Robert Isenberg
This is some pretty awesome design. Fun to read, too — although I’m biased-in-advance because I’ve got serious Pittsburgh nostalgia. I think bikers and ‘burghers alike would really enjoy this trip. The hand-stamping of the bicycle and the bicycle “trail” is just perfect.


The Hospital Papers by Lacy Cunningham, formatted vertically like a hospital chart (at least, that’s what it made me think of), and hand-stamped with hearts (like, internal organ, not Valentine) throughout.

Chapbooks, Poetry

Love in the Wild & Encyclopedia Destructica

Last night I read a beautiful limited-edition chapbook by poet Elizabeth Hoover. It’s called Love in the Wild, and not only does it contain memorable poems, it’s also a great example of the chapbook genre/format. Elizabeth was briefly a student of mine in a summer writing program a hundred years ago, so I’m thrilled to see her succeeding as a writer in a variety of venues and multiple genres.

The chapbook is smaller-sized — about 5×8 inches, about 20 pages of poem. The whole thing is just eight poems — and I must say they were well-selected and well-arranged. The eight poems offer plenty of hearty sustenance, packed as they are with striking images and ideas. Gender, war, violence, race, the politics of place/travel — seriously, Elizabeth is not wasting anybody’s time here! The volume is deceptively slim — inside its pages a rich and difficult world engages and challenges me.

She tells me she made this chapbook, which really is quite a beautiful thing, at a book-making collective called Encyclopedia Destructica. My heart got all fluttery to see a photograph on their gorgeous website — of a bunch of folks gathered on and around a front porch, as if for a party or barbecue — only they are sewing books.


Why does all the cool stuff happen in Pittsburgh? Because Pittsburgh is the coolest. It was pretty cool when I lived there briefly (92-95), but is way, way, WAY cooler now.

Speaking of chapbooks (okay, I was speaking of Pittsburgh, but we’re back to chapbooks), if you haven’t seen it yet, I did an interview this spring with Madeline Wiseman about my chapbook publishing history — this interview is a part of her larger blog series on chapbooks, which I recommend to those interested in thinking more about the genre/format.