By Sharon Chinook
The directions were clear. You arrived at the
guest house in good order. You find it to be as advertised. The door closes
behind you. You are now truly alone.
You can see another house a quarter mile away, but
cannot hear people. The cows are closer. Maybe an eighth of a mile, and
across the gravel road – and behind a fence. You hear the creek – softly.
It won’t run much longer. The Cascade snowmelt is spent.
You look for distraction, for entertainment. You
see a CD player/radio with table top speakers. NPR stations posted on the
side. No television. Your cell phone does not work. Your
I-pad does, but you were told that if you use more than .5 gigabytes
a week, you will be charged extra. So you don’t want to stream movies. How
much gigabytes is required to visit your Facebook
or look up a few things?
Like recipes. You have a big, beautiful farmhouse
kitchen. The spigot is a French farm house black arch. The oven is large.
Refrigerator/freezer much bigger than you need. Soup pot and cookie sheets,
steamer and skillets. Groceries are a half an hour away. There are no
curtains on the dining room windows.
Very little between you and the natural world. You
find many places to sit. Tables or desks in every room. Decks with lounge
chairs, benches, rocks, tree trunks to lean against, all awaiting your
sitting. And then you are no longer alone. Two kinds of rabbits cross the
front meadow. Deer are working up the hillside from the creek, towards you.
Small lizards visit in and out holes in rocks before you. You were told
these rocks fell from the sky. Volcanic power wresting them from Mount Shastina,
throwing them a 100 miles. Landing hot and making their mark on this land
forever more. Were there people here? When the fiery rocks rained on this
front yard like hail?
You are still and alone. There is a land line
phone with long distance. Cell reception is two miles away, back on the
blacktop. You have no one who needs calling.
You are alone. You take your clothes off and
wander through the guesthouse. You spend two hours reading in the deep
soaking tub surrounded by slate tile, soaps and salts, beeswax candles.
The door closes and you are alone. Unwitnessed, timeless, and free. Here, you can work.
For more information, visit Retreats at the
Chinook Aerie, Klamath Falls, Oregon or contact Sharon Chinook at email@example.com
By Julia Shipley
Bookish and Short
A what? People
often ask, and I reply: Chap Book, emphasizing the compound nature of the
name for a kind of publication, originally published cheaply and hawked on
the streets of Medieval Europe by Chap Men, traveling peddlers. Some of the
world’s first chapbooks were made from folding a single sheet of paper, the
size of a Broadside* [for more on Broadsides, please see the Spring 2012
newsletter] again, and again and again into a simple booklet. Akin to the
pamphlet, the chapbook is slender, often less than 40 pages, and is
therefore portable, and in some cases, possible to consume in a single
With the advent of
e-books, nooks, and kindles, Chapbooks have again become vogue as a kind of
artisanal alternative venue, a pushback from cold electronics to the
tactile, unique, and often quirky format of the paper and ink.
As a publishing
option, the Chapbook is perfect for a group of poems, a short story, even a
bunch of recipes or an essay. My collection of more than fifty includes
Robert Flynn’s 40 page memoir, Burying the Farm: Memories of Chillicothe,
published with handmade paper covers and hand-sewn by Wings Press in San
Antonio, Texas; Lia Purpurra’s
eight page lecture, The Nature of Innovation, published using a desktop
printer by Welcome Table Press in their Pamphlet Series; my neighbor, Erik
Gillard’s typed, photocopied, and rubber band bound 46 page poetry
collection, I am a catch and release
poet created and assembled at his kitchen table; and Timothy Barcomb’s
Repercussions, his 12 page poetry collection, made on an letterpress in
limited edition of 150 by Plowboy Press in East Burke, Vermont. And this is
just the tip of the iceberg—there are so many choices available for
writers, which is why it’s a wonderful venue for emerging writers to
In addition to the
ones I’ve already mentioned, my favorite chapbook publishers include Ugly
Duckling Presse in Brooklyn, Woodworks Press in Seattle, and Adastra Press
in Easthampton, Massachusetts. But I’m also a fan of the
Pudding House Press Series in Ohio, the
Finishing Line Press in Kentucky and
Dudley Laufman’s Wind in the Timothy Press in Canterbury, New
chapbooks can be so simple to design and assemble (or exquisite and
complicated and ornate) that writers can tackle publishing and promoting
them on their own, like my neighbor Erik Gillard, and like a former
student, Janice Rebecca Campbell in Texas. Janice’s 41 page poetry
collection Pink Merrymaking Allowed in the Midst of Green Geometry is a mix
of the old and new technology, in that Janice did the design and layout of
her slender, portable, inexpensive book, exactly as she wanted, and
published it via LuLu Enterprises, Inc., an
online site, a virtual street corner peddler, for publishing and selling
author’s books. The result of Janice’s decisions and planning is a unique,
artisanal volume, pleasing inside and out.
The tapas of
literature, chapbooks offer a small plate, a taste of someone’s sentences
and stanzas, and what a wonderful way to debut your work, or sample someone
To learn more, I’m offering a
two-session workshop called “The Chapbook: Reading and Writing the Slender Book”
this August. We’ll cover a brief history of the chapbook, discussing
production techniques from photocopiers and staplers to letterpresses and
hand-sewn bindings using a variety of chapbooks for participants to examine
and handle. The process of assembling a chapbook manuscript and finding the
best venue for publishing it, from small presses, contests and contests to
Do-It-Yourself options will also be considered.
Julia Shipley operates a writer’s
retreat in Craftsbury,
Vermont. To reach Julia, please dial 802-586-7733
or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org