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.