“Chapbooks are stealth books. / They can slip under a door. / They don’t impose. They suggest. They carry little baggage. / They’re not one thing or another.” —James Haug, Why I Like Chapbooks
Chapbooks are a bit rogue and subversive. In the nineteenth century, chapbooks were known as bibliothèque bleue (blue library) in France because they were often wrapped in the blue paper that was otherwise reserved for sugar, and Volksbuch (people’s book) in Germany as they were made by and meant for everyone. Chapbooks are—all at once—a sweet spot, a beckoning, a lightning, a petition for the particular, and a powerful plaiting of ideas. Do you have a collection of ten or more poems you’d like to develop and shape into a publishable chapbook? In this seven-week, online chapbook workshop, we’ll work on conceptualizing a collection, articulating its overt and subtextual themes and refining the poems (as well as their relationship to each other). We’ll look at exemplary chapbooks and discuss what makes a short collection / series of poems remarkable. We’ll workshop manuscript drafts, discussing sequencing, arcs, through lines, productive tensions, framing and voice, as well as practical matters such as how to submit your manuscript and design decisions. After seven weeks of building and feedback, your manuscript should find its shape and music and evolve into a chapbook collection that’s ready to live in the world. Class sessions will meet synchronously via Zoom, and assignments, poems and critiques will be shared via Wet Ink.
dawn lonsinger is the author of Whelm— winner of the Idaho Prize in Poetry, Cornell’s Freund Prize, and a Shelf Unbound Notable Book of the Year. Her poems have appeared in the American Poetry Review, Colorado Review, Guernica, Los Angeles Review and elsewhere. Lyric essays have appeared in Black Warrior Review and Western Humanities Review. She is the recipient of the Corson Bishop Prize, Smartish Pace’s Beullah Rose Prize, a Bucknell Seminar for Younger Poets Fellowship and a Fulbright Fellowship to South Korea. She has also won the Scowcroft Prize, an Academy of American Poets Prize, three Utah Arts Council Writing Awards and four Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Prizes. lonsinger holds a BA in studio art and English as well as an MA in literature from Bucknell University, an MFA in poetry from Cornell University and a PhD in literature and creative writing from the University of Utah. She is an associate professor of literature and creative writing at Muhlenberg College, where she was recently awarded the the Paul C. Empie ’29 Memorial Award for Excellence in Teaching.