Poetry Chapbook Assignment

Gertrude Stein said in the early twentieth century, “I wonder is there any such thing as poetry is there any such thing as prose or is it just that now anything moves about various ways.” With more and more poets choosing hybrid forms, Stein would be pleased with what poetry looks like today.

The three chapbooks here use prose poetry almost exclusively for their projects. Each has a clear theme and purpose and uses the form to either grapple with the world, rewrite history, or install a better future—perhaps they each, in a way, combine these ideas, reinventing prose poetry for this decade. While Nikki Wallschlaeger’s work resembles prose poetry more broadly, it uses spaces for its pacing, grammar, and syntax instead of punctuation. Angel Dominguez uses the form to write a series of letters, and Andrea Lawlor’s prose reads like a poetic manual for utopia.

Pizza and Warfare by Nikki Wallschlaeger (Garden Door Press, 2017)

Pizza and Warfare, true to its title, centers around memories of pizza, though it looks back on those memories with new eyes that can now recognize, name, and criticize America’s white supremacist patriarchy, focusing a lot on mother-daughter relationships. The speaker herself is a mother, and her own relationship, as a biracial woman with a white mother, is consistently examined. The tone of this chapbook is set by the opening epigraph, a Facebook post about a routine eye exam gone bad when the examiner asks the examinee to look into a target, and the examinee becomes sick with fear.

In looking at her education growing up, the speaker says, “I became afraid of tyrants my country had no tyrants just freedom peace pizza and families trying to get by making money.” This combination of pizza, violence, and white-washed history threads the chapbook’s familial accounts together. The speaker talks of her parents eating pizza together, her eating it with a teenage lover, and her own consumption of it as a child and adult. “I have learned it well from you that we are a violent family and we eat pizza during wartime,” the speaker addresses her mother.

The speaker often starts from the seed of a memory (e.g. eating pizza with X) and returns to that memory, scrutinizing it from a distance. Perhaps the most memorable segment of the chapbook is a series of poems that concern the speaker’s teenage memories of dating, prom, and fighting acne. She describes her position as a “white beauty industry victim of white supremacy” who wishes she were “a regal queen like Cleopatra . . . a common desperation for many women of color.” She imagines becoming a pizza-slinging superhero in one poem and revisits her prom night in the next few: “prom dresses are for one night only but pizza is forever.” It is in revisiting this memory that she can begin to understand that she uses pizza as a coping mechanism—and accept and appreciate its consistency in her life, despite the violence of the times.

Desgraciado by Angel Dominguez (Econo Textual Objects #9, 2017)

This epistolary chapbook consists of a series of letters-as-prose-poems from the author to Diego de Landa, a historical colonialist and Catholic missionary celebrated in Spanish history for the information he relayed to his home country about Mayan culture. Dominguez criticizes and fights this celebration—though his relationship with Diego is complex. They move between being pen pals, enemies, surrogate father and son, cross-temporal lovers—it’s complicated.

There is a certain hopelessness penetrating these letters—after all, their recipient cannot realistically write back. Desgraciado, in some ways, evokes John Berryman’s “Homage to Mistress Bradstreet,” wherein the twentieth century poet attempts to seduce America’s first published poet, Anne Bradstreet, in a trans-historical endeavor to colonize her body. Berryman goes as far as to assume the voice of Bradstreet, whereas the speaker only suggests Diego, at one point, is able to return his communication, though not through language and not with Dominguez adopting his oppressor’s voice. The speaker has a complicated relationship with language, being a poet who writes in English, avoiding Spanish—Diego’s imported, tyrannical language. “Spanish was transmitted with violence; my blood recalls trauma and anxiety spreads to my pupils when speaking the tongue.” Language, body, and land are inseparable in this chapbook. Yet because of his body, the speaker is expected to speak Spanish, despite his consistent rebellion from that assumption. “My tongue is my enemy. My tongue is my body. My tongue is my refugee my tongue is my home.” Blood and ink are connected through language, through the body, and the chapbook evokes blood as ink, ancestry, identity throughout its letters.

The chapbook’s consistent difficulties with their relationship to language is contradicted by the fact that poetry is made of words, a hypocrisy the speaker (and the poet) are constantly aware of—and this is only one aspect of the speaker’s daily trauma. “What sleeps in the violence we don’t address?” he asks Diego. Diego does not, cannot, answer Dominguez’s questions, but that does not—cannot, will not—prevent him from asking.

Position Papers by Andrea Lawlor (Factory Hollow Press, 2016)

Andrea Lawlor sets up Position Papers like it were a selection of scattered papers from a utopian instruction manual, each numbered and out of order, collected together to make this chapbook. Anyone who’s ever been assigned to create their own ideal nation will find something familiar in this work, which addresses regulations for fashion, taxes, cars, property, and more. The regulations set up in the poems here exist so that a certain level of control will disseminate into more freedom for all.

In “the new country” or “my country”—the speaker has various ways of referring to the post-Capitalist country that the papers evoke—Capitalism is an enemy: “We immigrants will try not to worry about the children’s game of cash register.” Environmentalism is prized, and property is communal. All jobs are staffed with “fairly-compensated workers with collective bargaining rights” and consist of titles like sorters, menders, collectors, eaters, planters, filmmakers, members of a variety of different collectives—the trees collective, the desserts collective, and the ease-of-mind collective—among others.

The objective language that Lawlor uses to describe the speaker’s utopia is interspersed with more beautiful sentences. Though, the beauty the chapbook is most interested in is that of the utopia itself, not necessarily the beauty of its descriptive language, and the chapbook’s best moments are where those meet: “From saplings’ delicate limbs we will dangle our friend requests, and around the magnolia gnarls we will tie with ribbons the notices of our name-changes and new pronouns.”

Tags:Andrea Lawlor, Angel Dominguez, Desgraciado, Nikki Wallschlaeger, Pizza and Warfare, Position Papers

The individual listings below are the chapbook publishers I found which do not charge submission fees, reading fees, or contest fees. The majority of chapbooks are published via contests and do typically require a fee from $10 – $25. Research each market thoroughly and make sure submitting is worth the fee. Many will provide prize money along with several copies of the chapbook for you to sell and otherwise promote your work.

The Chapbook Review is a great resource for all things related to chapbooks–including listings for:

They also provide online forms to add listings to their database, including your own published chapbooks.

For information on putting together your chapbook file to print some yourself or to have them printed, click here.

To check out my online chapbooks, click here.

14 NO FEE Chapbook Publishers – Individual Listings

Anvil Press

Notes: Canadian residents only, Postal submissions only

Submission Fees: None

Reading Periods: Always Open

About: “Anvil Press is a literary publisher interested in contemporary, progressive literature in all genres. We must stress that we are a small publisher, publishing 8 to 10 titles per year. In general, we are planning at least 12 months in advance and, at present, are only considering work by Canadian authors. We are not interested in seeing formulaic genre novels: Sci-Fi, Horror, Romance etc.”

Duotrope: https://duotrope.com/listing/1258

BatCat Press

Submissions Fees: None

Reading Periods: June – August

Notes: “BatCat Press was officially founded in 2009, led by managing editor Deanna [Mulye] Baringer and a staff of six intrepid high school students. With the support of Lincoln Park Performing Arts Charter School, BatCat Press has grown up and established itself as an independent publisher specializing in handmade limited editions of new works by both first time and established authors.”

Duotrope: https://duotrope.com/listing/4403

Glass Poetry Press

Submission Fees: None

Reading Periods: March 1 – March 31, 2017

About: “Glass Poetry Press is a micro-press in Toledo, Ohio that publishes poetry chapbooks. We also publish the online poetry journal, Glass: A Journal of Poetry. Our chapbooks are hand-bound and side stapled with full-color card stock covers. Each chapbook is assigned an ISBN. Initial print run is 100 copies and each chapbook will be kept in print as long as there is sufficient demand, to be determined by the press.”

Duotrope: https://duotrope.com/listing/19918

Hyacinth Girl Press

Submissions Fees: None

Reading Periods: April – June

Notes: “Hyacinth Girl Press is a micro-press that publishes up to 6 poetry chapbooks each year. We specialize in handmade books of smaller press runs. We consider ourselves a feminist press and are particularly interested in manuscripts dealing with topics such as radical spiritual experiences, creation/interpretation of myth through a feminist lens, and science. We think outerspace, in particular, is pretty darn cool.”

Duotrope: https://duotrope.com/listing/5486


Notes: 10 page chapbooks

Submission Fees: None

Current Deadline: March 31, 2017

About: “We are a brand new independent, reader-supported, quarterly journal of fine art photography and poetry on our way to our very first year of publication.  We are proud to announce that our Inaugural issue, and all of our future issues will be available in both print and online editions.”

Duotrope: https://duotrope.com/listing/21371

Origami Poems

Notes: Microchaps, previously unpublished

Reading Periods: Jan 1 – Mar 15, May 1 – June 30, Sept 1 – Dec 31 (Closed April, July and August)

Submission Fees: None

Form: Specific format, read guidelines carefully and download their examples

Payment: “Upon acceptance we’ll post your book under your own Bio page. You’ll receive a packet of your Origami micro-chapbooks to read, share, or display on the tiniest of bookshelves.” Plus, the warm fuzzy feeling of sharing your poems!

DUOTROPE: https://duotrope.com/listing/7370

Maverick Duck Press

Notes: No simultaneous submissions.

Reading Periods: Always open

Submission Fees: None

About: “Maverick Duck Press was founded in 2005 to help give a voice to undiscovered talent in poetry. We are a small chapbook press that publishes limited run, saddle stapled chapbooks. We look for fresh and cutting edge talent with an eye for detail and a powerful voice. Our books are available through this website and via readings from our poets. We do not have the ability to mass distribute like the big publishers, but we’d like to think that we are doing this for art’s sake.”

DUOTROPE: https://duotrope.com/listing/1670

Palettes & Quills

Notes: Poetry Only

Submissions Fees: None

Reading Periods: Always Open

About: “Founded in 2002, Palettes & Quills is devoted to the celebration and expansion of the literary and visual arts, offering both commissioned and consulting services. It works to support beginning and emerging writers and artists to expand their knowledge, improve their skills, and connect to other resources in the community.  Further, Palettes & Quills seeks to increase the public’s awareness and appreciation of these arts through education, advocacy, hands-on program assistance, and functioning as a small literary press.”

Payment: “20 free copies of the published chapbook and an author’s discount on the purchase of additional copies.  For collaborative projects  the 20  complimentary copies will be given to the editor for for appropriate distribution.”

Duotrope: https://duotrope.com/listing/20583

Prolific Press

Submissions Fees: None

Reading Periods: Always Open

About: “Although chapbooks are not typically treated the same as full offerings in the marketplace, Prolific Press does purchase and provide a unique ISBN and barcode. We make this investment to help ensure that our chapbooks can be collected and traded long after they are out of print, further preserving the voice of the writer.”

Payment: “Selected authors receive 10 copies and publication as payment for the short collection.”

Duotrope: https://duotrope.com/listing/16281


Rinky Dink Press

Notes: Microchaps, micropoems

Submissions Fees: None

Reading Periods: Always open

About: “Rinky Dink Press is on a mission to get poetry back into the hands (and pockets) of the people – each of our single author collections can fit in your pocket, but we never sacrifice craft, and despite the tiny format, we refuse to sacrifice style. In short, we’re a microzine press that marries a DIY attitude with skilled poetics and fine-art aesthetics. POETRY: Submit thematically related micropoems (i.e. poems consisting of between 25 & 40 words). Poems can form a cohesive narrative or adhere loosely to a theme of your choosing. Most importantly, we privilege finely-crafted verse, conscientious in its intent. FYI, micropoems are not haiku.”

Duotrope: https://duotrope.com/listing/21001

Seven Kitchens Press

Notes: This press runs four separate chapbook prizes throughout the year. There are no fees to submit to any of them.

Submissions Fees: None

Reading Periods:

About: “Our goal has always been to publish the very best poetry and prose we can find in carefully-edited, hand-trimmed & hand-tied chapbooks; to work in close collaboration with authors through the production process; and to present a wide aesthetic range from both established and emerging writers. We hope you’ll browse through our titles and discover writers that you can’t wait to read more of.”

Payment: “Each winning poet will receive 25 copies of their chapbook, which will be designed, printed, and hand-assembled by Seven Kitchens Press.”

Duotrope: Each prize is listed separately.

Unsolicited Press

Notes: “We publish full-length poetry collections, translations, chapbooks, and collaborative pieces (more than one poet in a book).”

Submissions Fees: None

Reading Periods: Currently open, “We will accept submissions until we find enough books to fill our 2018-2019 publication schedules.”

About: “No bullshit, just books.”

Duotrope: https://duotrope.com/listing/15791

Underground Voices

Submissions Fees: None

Reading Periods: Always Open

Notes: “Can be a novel, a collection of shorts, a collection of poetry, or a novella. Poetry manuscripts must be a minimum of 65 pages and novella manuscripts must be a minimum of roughly 35,000 words. . . . We will be happy to publish e-books for works shorter than 35,000 words (chapbooks, 5-10 short story collections, etc).”

Duotrope: https://duotrope.com/listing/13542

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Categories: Call for Submissions

Tagged as: Anvil Press, BatCat Press, Glass Poetry Press, Hyacinth Girl Press, Light press, Maverick Duck Press, no fee chapbook submission call, Origami Poems, Palettes & Quills, Prolific Press, Red Paint Hill Publishing, Rinky Dink Press, Seven Kitchens Press, Underground Voices, Unsolicited Press

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