What are chapbooks?

Chapbooks are a literary trend. What are they and what should you read

Time In

Time Out takes a look at what a chapbook is and which you should be reading now.

Chapbooks are usually between 20 and 40 pages. They give writers a chance to meditate on a single theme or send their work into the ether before creating a full-length version. Here are a few to check out now.

And I Shall Again Be Virtuous
By Natalie Eilbert
In her second chapbook, the poet and essayist brings her immense emotion to a subtly dystopian narrative about the patriarchy, trauma and the oppression of silence.
Sample line: ‘The women used to laugh at the image / of a world without men.’
Dhs37. Available at www.biglucks.bigcartel.com.

Flowers of Rad
By Sampson Starkweather
This new chapbook presents a long poem sequence that weaves between childhood memories and metapoetic revelations, deftly balanced by the poet’s unabashed self-awareness.
Sample line: ‘I want to write a poem as long as California / like lying on a couch forever.’
Dhs37. Available at www.factoryhollowpress.com.

24 Hours
By Matthew Dickman
One of those writers who can’t seem to do any wrong, Matthew Dickman collects his charming poems consisting of 24 lines alongside 24 drawings done at a different hour of the day.
Sample lines: ‘The light invented who I was supposed to be. / The light told me I was king.’
Dhs37. Available at www.poorclaudia.org.

Juliet (I)
By Sarah Certa
Taking a few notes from Shakespeare’s tragic love story, Sarah Certa’s new e-chapbook is part confession, part feminist treatise. It contains knife-edge sharp and honest moments of pain that come pouring out of every line.
Sample line: ‘On the 21st day of spring I bake banana bread / and promise my mother I won’t kill myself.’
Free. Available at www.h-ngm-n.com.

Phrasis
By Wendy Xu
Okay, so you can’t carry this one in your pocket, but sometimes you just need poems read to you. In her digital chapbook, Wendy Xu reads seven poems, and her elegantly meditative lines will seep into your brain and stick there.
Sample lines: ‘Placed my principles of natural order I open my mouth / My language slips through and through me again.’
Pay-what-you-like download available at www.blackcake.org.

Weekend Poems
By Vanessa Jimenez Gabb
This Brooklyn-based writer transforms everyday moments – such as going to the gym – into gritty poems that tilt the world-as-we-see-it on its axis.
Sample line: ‘I watch the Netflix / I can’t stop Netflix.’
Dhs26. Available at www.dulcetshop.ecrater.com.

Don Dreams and I Dream
By Leah Umansky
In this Mad Men-inspired chap, Umansky weaves a thread between her life and the show, creating an entrancing set of poems about the greater human experience.
Sample line: ‘I know advertising is based on moments, but so is life.’
Dhs44 from www.leahumansky.com

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