The beauty of chapbooks

The beauty of chapbooks

On this rainy Thursday morning, I was reading our twitter feed and came across this link (when Submittable tweeted it to ask, “if you were a chapbook, how would you be bound?”). Sampson Starkweather offers some thoughts on chapbooks and how they’re completely amazing, including this gem:

Chapbooks also have such a materiality and visceral physical life, because they are mostly handmade and handbound and come in all shapes, sizes (from Small Fires matchbooks to The Pines LP records) and textures imaginable (god I love texture!), made from old military uniforms, childhood blankets, prison cups, cardboard, vinyl, rubber, bolts, matchbooks, you name it. It is this handmade element and imagination and of course each chapbook’s limited nature that gives them such value, and ties them to history and an archival existence. Chapbooks are a link to the human that I think is more important than ever right now in the face of ever increasing digital media and publishing, Chapbooks are like Sarah Connor and her son (John Connor) facing the Terminators in Terminator 2: the hope of all mankind and the future of the human race lie in their hands. Also, they are perfect to read on the subway! | read more

We agree; chapbooks are handbound artifacts of human-to-human creativity and communication, and it’s why we take the time to make these editions. It’s why we insist on producing them on paper, in a lasting, portable, fondleable form, to be carried about and opened up in those moments between gadget fiddlings.

So, if you were a chapbook, how would you be bound?

Good Stuff

Be on the lookout:

(April) Sugared Water‘s second issue, a lit mag.
(May) l’appel du vide by Christina Cooke, a poetry chapbook.

Inaugural Chapbook Call for Manuscripts:

4 days remain! Submissions close April 1 at midnight (Eastern).

It’s our goal to complete 6 beautiful handmade chaps in 2014. Will yours be among them?

Thank You

Thank you to everyone who’s supported us so far, including you (you, reading this now, yes…), and you, presses to professors, readers who give of their time, and everyone between, particularly the writers and poets who’ve trusted us with work (whether we accept or reject it—especially when we reject it and you submit again), you who’ve emailed with us and generally made us feel welcome in the conversation. Thank you. Please keep it up; so will we.

Artful books are our passion, and we’re beyond chuffed to make cool stuff worth carting around, reading, re-reading, and scoping out with a cup of tea (or wine, whiskey, whatever you adore). We look forward to presenting you with these offerings once they’re compiled, edited, illustrated, printed, collated, stabbed (gently), and sewn up into book form.

As this first reading period comes to a close, we’re definitely feeling the love.

Forthcoming – l’appel du vide – Christina Cooke

Porkbelly Press is happy to announce the acceptance of Christina Cooke’s chapbook of poetry entitled l’appel du vide. | pre-order

Christina pulls from a well of gender, identity, and sexuality, peppers it with a hint of Jamaican rhythm and language, and presents it to us in this chapbook. She coaxes words together in love-lust, examines the gaze, and brings us into the place of a woman-body walking over hot asphalt, the rain on her skin, and the taste of mango jam on her tongue. She does not shy away from the internal voice, self-doubt, or the anxious churning of a wanton body.

Perhaps our favorite thing about the chapbook is the irreverence with which it ends (but we won’t spoil that for you). It’s the attitude that first drew us in, and we are not disappointed at any page-turn.

Excerpt from l’appel du vide:

her, me

her hair
falls against my chest
cowlicks curling up

reaching along her cheek, her neck
catching loose strands
as she cupsflattenscradles
palming my breasts.

fingers to warm skin
with both hands i hold her
just hold
swells of skin curving
not pale, flat

she exhales
makes space between her knees.

Christina Cooke currently lives and writes on the occupied and unceded territories of the Coast Salish peoples (Vancouver, Canada). Her prose appeared in Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education and Society (CA) and Sou’wester (US); her creative non-fiction appeared in HYSTERIA: A Collection of Feminisms (UK); her poetry is forthcoming from Matrix Magazine (CA). She is also an editorial collective member of the feminist literary journal Room Magazine (CA). To learn more about her writerly endeavours, follow her on Twitter, @cjctlc, or her blog, Of That Close Kerning, So Splendiferous, Repletes.

Bodies in Water, P. Andrew Miller

Bodies in Water, P. Andrew Miller

Bodies in Water (P. Andrew Miller) is Porkbelly Press’ first offering in a new line of chapbooks. Miller’s hybrid chap. combines a piece of short fiction with a creative nonfiction essay. The book is handsewn and numbered by hand, and the special edition cover is limited to a run of 75. // more

Cover design & layout: Nicci & Jonathan

Reading Chapbook Manuscripts Through April 1


The press is reading chapbook manuscripts through April 1, 2014. We’re looking for 12-28 page works with a cohesive thread, tight focus, and are particularly interested in works with a strong sense of place or identity.

Manuscript announcements & excerpts for chaps accepted in the 2014 season will pop up on the blog in the coming weeks. Pre-orders are available in our shop via Etsy. Those electing to pre-order will be the first (after the writers & poets) to receive special edition copies.

Love Me, Love My Belly, a body image zine printed by PP, has closed for submission. Submission responses have gone out for everything, and we’re awaiting final confirmations before going ahead with layout and proofing. We anticipate that the zine will surface sometime between late April & early May.

Bodies in Water – P. Andrew Miller

Porkbelly Press is pleased to announce the acceptance of its first chapbook, P. Andrew Miller’s Bodies in Water.  | order

This chapbook, forthcoming in the first quarter of 2014, pairs a personal essay (sprinkled with lyric language and just a little shapeshifting magic) with a short story exploring the way the river’s song slowly takes over a woman’s life, and, in some ways, her family. This chapbook explores identity, memory, and obsession—you may yet look differently at the river the next time you cross one.

A sample from “Skins”:

In spring, I will feel the call of the sun and the heat and the water.  In those first few days of 70 degree weather, I will give in to the call that I will hear in my heart and my blood. I will know it is spring and I will answer.

I will wait until dusk, then I will pick up my skin and make my way across the street and then walk down to where the larger creek runs under the road, pouring out and down the hill into the Great Miami. I will climb and slip down the bank to the edge of the creek…

We’re proud to welcome Andy into our family here at Porkbelly Press. He just happens to be a Cincinnati native, and friend to writers around the world. If you’re interested in learning more about him and his other publications, as well as items currently available for purchase online, please check out his blog: Talk Geek to Me

P. Andrew Miller is coordinator of creative writing at Northern Kentucky University. His stories and poems have appeared in many different publications including Sugared Water, Dragon Magazine, Sword & Sorceress 13 and 18, The MacGuffin, Drawn to Marvel, and many others. His first chapbook, The Legacy of the Turquoise Knight was a lyric comic released from Finishing Line Press in 2010. His short story collection In Love, In Water and Other Stories is forthcoming from Post Mortem Press. He lives in Cincinnati and collects dragons, super hero artwork, and Germans.

Sugared Water #001, Literary Magazine

Sugared Water is a cross-genre literary magazine made in Cincinnati, Ohio. It’s also Porkbelly Press’ first title.


SW is printed in a limited edition of 240, featuring a two color, hand-pulled, screenprinted covers (60+ lb, kraft stock, 100% recycled, 20% PCW), stenciling in brilliant gold. It’s also bound and editioned by hand. Edited by Nicci Mechler.

From the website: If we could candy words, we’d eat them to bellyaches every afternoon. We carry journals and collect chapbooks like Smaug ripping through a gold-sequin disco. If we’re lucky enough to leave something behind that enriches the dialogue of writerly types around the world, so much the better. Send us your stuff—we’ll only hoard it for a little while.

Are you a writer or poet? Sugared Water reads April 1 – July 1 and October 1 – January 1 via Submittable.

Several local poets are featured in the mag. #001 contains 56 pages: 21 poems, 1 piece of creative nonfiction, and 3 works of flash and short fiction.

Contributors include: Paul David Adkins, Jessica Bixel, Michael Brookbank, Wendy Creekmore, Rebecca Emanuelsen, Lauren Gordon, Carol Guess, Roxanne Kent-Drury, Vickie Knueven, Kate LaDew, Christen Leppla, Kelly Magee, Jennifer Martelli, Rebecca McLeod, P. Andrew Miller, Caitlin Neely, Victor David Sandiego, Tori Telfer, Rex Anthony Trogdon, Loretta Diane Walker, Sara Walters, Hilda Weaver, and Yim Tan Wong.

SW is available for purchase via Wicked Little Heart (Etsy) in the Porkbelly Press section.