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Gene Myers.haiku column

The Haiku Society of America is pleased to host this ongoing column.

.Haiku: a place to share tools available to haiku writers and fellow haiku fans (like how to use Twitter, Facebook and Scribd for building community, self-publishing and marketing). The column will also feature interviews, blog spotlights and occasional multimedia presentations.

Gene Myers <poetgene@gmail.com>


2011 .haiku columns

.haiku column number 3 • 10-17-2011

by Gene Myers <poetgene@gmail.com>

Blogging, the new rag paper for haiku

If you are a poetry lover, you know what a chapbook is. Most do not. In days of yore, almanacs, history, myths, stories and folk songs were all preserved in small, crudely made chapbooks.

Those familiar with the term probably have romanticized visions of a duty-bound, literate few from the middle ages peddling their rag paper wares from village to village. The peddlers weren't just hucksters. They were disseminating information. They were bettering the lives of people, and not just the upper crust who could afford to have book collections of their own, but also the common man.

chapbooksIn an era when paper was expensive, chapbooks were sold for a penny or ha'penny. They were cheap and they were necessary.

"These old Chap books [sic], sold by the Chapmen, have given us most of our old nursery rhymes, English ballads, folklore and old legends," states the article "Chapbooks and the Nursery Rhyme." at <http://rhymes.org.uk>.

"If you want to buy, I'm your chap," the chapmen would yell as they went from door-to-door. Also referred to as "merriments, they were pocket sized and cheap.

"The Nursery Rhyme began to be printed in England as early as 1570! Chapbooks were also popular with people who could not read as they contained pictures," writes <rhymes.org.uk>. "The content and material of the Chapbooks expanded in the 1700s to include children’s stories like Robinson Crusoe and various versions of Perrault's Fairy Tales."

The popularity of chapbooks dwindled in the nineteenth century in the face of competition from newspapers.

Chapbooks are still preserving culture. They are still on the side of the underdog. In today's world, the paupers are the poets and poetry lovers (both in reality and for the sake of this analogy).

Low-cost, low-production chapbooks are one of the few avenues available to the art with the lowest returns—poetry.

Bloggers also work in the true spirit of the chapbook. Take a look at the blogs for Lilliput Review <http://lilliputreview.blogspot.com>, Red Dragonfly <http://haikuproject.wordpress.com>, A Handful of Stones <http://www.ahandfulofstones.com> and Blogging Along Tobacco Road

Each one of them focuses on publishing others. Each illustrates how greatly the Web serves the romantically-inclined, underdog poets.

What are some of your favorite haiku blogs? E-mail them to me at <poetgene@gmail.com>.

• .haiku column number 3 • 10-17-2011 •

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