Saturday, March 31, 2012

Chapbook Festival at CUNY Grad Center

Books! I can never resist them, and chapbooks are a special treat, so after several Friday morning appointments, I headed down to the CUNY Graduate Center to check out the Chapbook Festival, which was sponsored by the City University of New York, CUNY's Center for the Humanities, the Center for the Book Arts, the Poetry Society of America, and Poets House, great organizations all.  The three-day festival (March 28-30) comprised a book fair in the Grad Center's Concourse atrium, readings (with free lunch and coffee), talks, and workshops on how to create chapbooks. There were publishers assembling right there at the book fair, and so many little presses I had to restrain myself from exceeding the very modest budget I'd set.

But I did pick up a neat, bound set of chapbooks, the first of the Lost and Found Series, edited and published by people at CUNY's Center for the Humanities. Each series features various key documents from American literary history produced by original research, in beautifully printed editions. Series I contains:

  • Amiri Baraka & Ed Dorn: Selections from the Collected Letters, 1959-1960, ed. Claudia Moreno Pisano
  • Darwin & The Writers: Muriel Rukeyser, ed. Stefania Helm
  • Philip Whalen's Journals: Selections: 1957-1977 (Parts I and II), ed. Brian Unger
  • The 1963 Vancouver Poetry Conference / Robert Creeley's Contexts of Poetry, with selections from Daphne Marlatt's Journal, ed. Ammiel Alcalay
  • The Correspondences of Kenneth Koch & Frank O'Hara (Parts I & II), ed. Josh Schneiderman

At the table, the first document from Series III, Lorine Neidecker's Homemade Poems, was on sale, with the rest of the volumes to appear soon, so I said I'd wait for it and buy Series II soon. I got to see a number of poet friends, including Tonya Foster, Brian Teare, and Cara Benson, and to meet a number of new folks as well. I arrived between the readings, so I didn't check those out, but saw on Twitter that they went well.

I also had a verklempt moment, when I saw a chapbook by Christy Call (with her brother Ryan Call) for sale, Pocket Finger (Baltimore: Publishing Genius, 2008). I taught Christy as an undergraduate (she took her introductory fiction course with me) and then, years later, when she was finishing up, I served as her thesis advisor for her creative nonfiction thesis. (She's the only student so far I've been lucky enough to teach at the undergraduate and graduate levels.) In this book, she shows her versatility by providing the drawings.  I remember Christy saying the book was forthcoming, but it was so good to see it on display and for sale. I am definitely look forward to next year's event, which I hope to catch a lot more of!

Here are some photos from the event:
Chapbook Festival 2012 @ CUNY Grad Ctr
The window display at the CUNY Grad Center

Chapbook Festival 2012 @ CUNY Grad Ctr
The display in the Grad Center alcove

Chapbook Festival 2012 @ CUNY Grad Ctr
Some of the chapbooks

Chapbook Festival 2012 @ CUNY Grad Ctr
The chapbookfair

Chapbook Festival 2012 @ CUNY Grad Ctr
Some of the vendors, sewing and assembling chapbooks

Table display at Chapbook Festival 2012 @ CUNY Grad Ctr
Books for sale: Christy Call was my undergrad and grad student!

Chapbook Festival 2012 @ CUNY Grad Ctr
More books

Chapbook Festival 2012 @ CUNY Grad Ctr
The fair

Chapbook Festival 2012 @ CUNY Grad Ctr
A particularly fine display

The window display @ CUNY for the Chapbook Festival 2012
Another excellent display

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