A chapbook, well-known in poetry circles, is a small, inexpensive book that is often self-produced, or produced in small numbers. From the Poets House website there is:
A Little History of the Poetry Chapbook
Here’s Henry Mills Alden, from his colorful account of “Chapbook Heroes,” published in Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, v.51, June to November, 1890:
No doubt, from a modern book-maker’s point of view, the chapbook is a squalid, degraded product of a rude, now happily by-gone time. Truly in itself it presents little or nothing to please either the eye or the taste; yet, considering it apart from such supersensitiveness, it is a question whether the study and analysis of this low, humble, obscure branch of literature might not reward the investigator with very considerable results, touching upon the manner of thought and intellectual pleasures of the great lower mass of humanity.
It is a humble offering when a chapbook comes out, but find the right one and there are also indeed “intellectual pleasures.” Longtime Subud Greater Seattle member (& current Secretary) Ramon Hildreth has released a chapbook entitled Broken Waves. The title likely alludes to his love for surfing, well-demonstrated in this fine little book, with poems like Westport Haibun. The haibun is a Japanese form, created by Basho, that combines dense, poetic prose passages with haiku, or haiku-like moments that are related to the prose, that don’t “explain” it, per se, but come at that content from an angle. (“Tell it slant” said Emily Dickinson.) Haibun are often written as travel accounts and Ramon’s haibun here is no exception:
This looks like a nice end to a fine poem, except then you turn the page and it continues, which is a sweet bit of surprise mind that gives the reader a little jolt, like “that’s not all!”
Again his daughters are referenced and his love for them shines through this book. That yellow is also the color related to the solar plexus chakra and the notion of self-worth is key here. We get a sense of it building in poems like Westport Haibun and on others where we get a glimpse of some of the hell he’s been through. This is established in the book’s very first poem and epistle called Letter from the Bering Sea where Ramon did seasonal fishing back in the day. There is also a deep look at his personal mythology which sets the tone for intimacy. You want to read on and see how his life turns out.
His inscription in my copy of the book alludes to meeting in a poetry class at the Richard Hugo House in Seattle, a moment I think we’ll both remember the rest of our lives. That encounter in part brought me back to Subud after a couple year hiatus and so I have (in part) Ramon to thank. But the book itself is a beautiful object with a long poem inserted right at the saddle stitch in the landscape format, which is a nice design feature and another beautiful little surprise. Contact Ramon Hildreth at email@example.com to see how you can get a copy and enjoy a brilliant chapbook from a Subud brother.