A Project of the Poetry Center, San Francisco State University

When it comes to chapbooks, the definition seems as variable as the poetry they contain. Here’s what Brian A. Klems at Writer’s Digest has to say about chapbooks. (The term chapbook apparently comes from chap(man) book, because such publications were once peddled by an itinerant tradesman known as a chapman, with word origins related to cheap.)

However you describe them, chapbooks offer a window into a poet’s most recent, and sometimes most experimental, work. The challenge, unless you live in a city large enough to support a bookstore that stocks a wide selection of poetry chapbooks, such as City Lights in San Francisco or Open Books in Seattle, is to see chapbooks outside the context of poetry readings.

Melissa Eleftherion Carr, a Mendocino County (CA) librarian, and Elise Ficarra, associate director of the Poetry Center, San Francisco State University, are starting to meet that challenge with the Poetry Center Chapbook Exchange. A digital repository for “emerging print poetry chapbook collections,” the Exchange is, according to Melissa, “community-curated, which essentially means that contributors are invited to each invite another poet to join. We are always open to new contributors, and strive for a diverse collection.”

The Exchange is growing slowly, with about 40 chapbooks currently listed. Each publication is carefully documented and reproduced in PDF, viewable online.

To learn more, visit the Poetry Center Chapbook Exchange
and see Melissa Eleftherion Carr’s description of the Exchange and a transcript of her presentation on the Exchange from AWP 2014.

In the Dance Studio*

September 14, 2014

Angela Belcaster - In the Dance Studio
In the Dance Studio
By Angela Belcaster
2014 Merit Award

Sofia, my daughter:
Your blonde hair’s broke free of gravity again,
Lifted by a whirlwind of notes
your toes and shoulders and arms ascend.

At your age I hid
in closets, under beds, in trees,
I climbed and deflected and crouched
And turned my body into dance
only when I dreamed

Sofia, look:

Your dark leather dance shoes
are the only thing holding you from breaking free
from flying up into the slipstream, into the music;
Think them into black crows and rise when you are ready You’re Persephone my dear; rewritten the story thus:
Once freed by this spring, you’re not going back,
just try and make you.

If love can change lives
then I am saved.

It’s half my genes in you, dancing.

*Copyright 2014 by Angela Belcaster. Broadside designed by Anita K. Boyle, Egress Studio. Illustration by Angela Boyle, Flying Dodo Publications.

Seattle Sunday StringTown

September 13, 2014

poetry reading

StringTown is a publisher and a literary journal that brings (primarily) Northwest voices to a wider audience. On Sunday, September 14, 2014, you can hear some of those voices at a reading at Seattle’s Naked City Brewing & Taphouse.

The evening’s readers of poetry and fiction include Bethany Reid, Judith Skillman, Larry Crist, Polly Buckingham, Caroline Allen, Anita K. Boyle, James Bertolino and more, followed by a reception and signing. The event is free and you can find details by visiting StringTown Press on Facebook.

just one word

September 12, 2014


This little wordplay, which is borrowed from the word-savvy folks at Grammarly (who borrowed and reworked it from curlicuecal), is not only fun but instructive. While not every word has the sense-altering impact of only, the exercise of moving the word through the sentence illustrates the significance of placement and how meaning can be changed by repositioning a single word. Try it with your own writing, not necessarily with the word only, but by shifting just one word through your lines of text to see what happens…

The Art of Poetry

September 11, 2014

edx - The Art of PoetryMassive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) offer an opportunity to challenge yourself with a university-level educational experience while sitting in front of your computer.

The 10-week University of Pennsylvania MOOC Modern & Contemporary American Poetry, offered through Coursera, has just started up again and enrollment is still open. The course is free.

The Art of Poetry, which begins September 30, 2014, focuses on “actually saying a poem” and, through that entry point, “on elements of the art such as poetry’s historical relation to courtship; techniques of sound in free verse; poetry’s relation to music; the nature of greatness.” The lead instructor is poet, professor and former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky. There is no charge for auditing the course, which offers full access to the course materials.

The same catalog of courses, edX, is offering a series on the history of poetry in America. The first in the series, Poetry in America: The Poetry of Early New England, started yesterday, September 10, 2014, and runs for five weeks.

on poetry…

September 10, 2014

Mary Oliver“Every poem is music —
a determined, persuasive, reliable, enthusiastic, and crafted music.”
Mary Oliver
(b. September 10, 1935)
. . . . .

100 Thousand Poets for Change

September 9, 2014

27 September 2014

“Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds.” Elie Wiesel

Now in its fourth year, 100 Thousand Poets for Change is a worldwide event in which local gatherings, celebrations, readings, exhibits, marches, lectures and other activities honor the possibility of change for the better. This year it will be celebrated on Saturday, September 27, though some events spill over, before or after.

100TPC has a website, a Facebook page, a Facebook event page and “official” local coordinators for Ellensburg (Lowell Murphree), Olympia (Jean Marie Riquelme), Puyallup (Kimberlee Gerstmann), Seattle (Lola Peters) and Tulalip (Kismet Armstrong).

Details about local events are more likely to be found in the local media than on official sites, but here are a couple:

In Seattle, Poetry+Motion presents Justice & Social Change: poetry, dance and open mic at Dahlak Eritrean Cuisine. Ticket info.

In Vancouver, WA, the William Stafford Centenary Reading will feature George Thomas and local authors from the anthology World of Change: Eileen Elliott, Christopher Luna, and Toni Partington, plus open mic, at Angst Gallery.

Whether you celebrate in public or in private, change is an excellent prompt. Be creative. If you have events scheduled in the region, please leave a comment and a link!


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