We don’t do things by halves here at Malvern Books! We’re already celebrating National Poetry Month with a very generous offer and a multitude of readings, but we decided to go for the Hurray Poetry! trifecta by adding something rather special to the Malvern mix: chapbooks. Yep, we’re soon going to be stocking a bunch of them.
Most of you are probably familiar with the wonderful world of chapbooks, but for the four of you who are picturing volumes of poetry encased in leather trouser-coverings: stop it, you weirdos. Chapbooks are just short books, generally no more than forty pages long—and they’re often very, very beautiful.
In the interests of bringing y’all the best of the very best, we decided to check out the wares at last week’s NYC/CUNY Chapbook Festival, which was held in a gloomy basement in midtown Manhattan. (All literary festivals must take place in basements: it’s the law.) There were a ton of small presses in attendance, and we were thrilled to take a peek at the offerings of some of our favorites, including Factory Hollow Press, Bloof Books, and Ugly Duckling Presse.
And we also made some lovely new discoveries, like Lost & Found, a publishing project of CUNY’s The Center for the Humanities. Their exquisite chapbooks feature all manner of rare and unpublished texts, from Adrienne Rich’s teaching materials to late work by Harlem Renaissance poet Helene Johnson.
Another chapbook champion? Ed Rayher of Swamp Press. Founded by Ed in 1976, Swamp Press produces limited edition letterpress books so beautiful they’ve found their way into the rare book collections of the Boston Public Library, the New York Public Library, Brown, Harvard, et al. And Ed really knows his stuff vis–à–vis printing techniques and equipment—if you ever want to discuss Benton Pantographs and Thompson Typecasters, well, Ed’s your man!
We left the fest with a groaning tote bag full of cards and brochures and a ridiculously long To Buy list. (You’re welcome to add to this list by emailing us with suggestions.) We can’t wait to make room on our shelves for a whole heap of chapbook goodness, and we’ll be sure to let you know as soon as they arrive!