Sunday, July 24, 2016

A Honky Tonk in Cleveland Ohio

You may know Carl Sandberg (1878-1967) for his Chicago poem.  But here's his Cleveland poem:

Honky Tonk in Cleveland, Ohio

photo of Winking Lizard pub in Coventry
photo by GL
It’s a jazz affair, drum crashes and cornet razzes.
The trombone pony neighs and the tuba jackass snorts.
The banjo tickles and titters too awful.
The chippies talk about the funnies in the papers.
     The cartoonists weep in their beer.
     Ship riveters talk with their feet
     To the feet of floozies under the tables.
A quartet of white hopes mourn with interspersed snickers:
        “I got the blues.
        I got the blues.
        I got the blues.”
And . . . as we said earlier:
     The cartoonists weep in their beer.

Friday, July 15, 2016

What is a Chapbook?

...and, having answered your question "what is a literary magazine," poet and editor E. Kristin Anderson goes on to ask the question ‘What Is a Chapbook?

a photo of one of our shelves of books

What is a chapbook, anyway?  From looking at chapbooks, you'd think it's just a shorthand for a "cheap book"-- and they are, usually; at least, usually a lot lower in cost (and production values) than more highly polished perfect-bound books (although some chapbooks can be quite impressive handmade works of art).  That's not what the word actually means, though: chapbooks were originally the books sold by a chapman, the itinerant pedlers that used to take carts from town to town in the middle ages, and would sell-- after the printing press was invented-- broadsides and cheaply-printed books alongside pots and pans and razors and nostrums.  So, poetry chapbooks have a long history.
Today poets are their own chapmen, sell their own chapbooks, the itinerant peddlers of the middle ages, going from  reading to reading, town to town, with their wagons filled with goods.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Creating Order

image of blocks spelling "order" and "chaos"

In The White Space Inside the Poem, Susan Grimm addresses the question of order: specifically, in what order should a poet arrange their poems?
Of course, she is coming back to a subject she has addressed before: Ordering the Storm: How to put together a book of poems. And others have looked at the subject as well: the helicopter view, the mix-tape strategy.

You can order by theme, by date, by alternating long and short, or alternating serious and frivolous poems. You can put similar-themed poems next to each other, or you can sprinkle them out, or bookend a collection with poems on the same theme.

At a reading, I like to try to alternate the serious with the silly; the rhymed with the free.  But sometimes it's good to just find a theme and develop it.

In all, it's a question of whether a book of poetry is a selection of individual gems, or a single unified thing.  One thing, or many?  In the mix-tape view, is this a rock opera, or a collection of singles?

Anyone else have thoughts to add?


The poet doesn't invent. He listens. ~Jean Cocteau