“this yr”

“this yr” is a poem published in chapbook format in December, 1976, by Stephen Jama. 100 copies were printed. The chapbook consists of three sheets, 6&3/4” by 6”, folded and hand-sewn with red thread. The cover is slightly thicker than the inside pages, the inside paper a bit heavier than standard typing paper.

Jama was a popular instructor at El Camino College. The “this yr” shown in this post was a 1976 Christmas gift to me from Michael Mahon, also a friend of Jama’s, and a professor at Dominguez Hills. Another example of a Jama poem, this one in a kind of broadside, or broadsheet, format, “each sounding’s its answer,” is on-line as part of Jama’s Kent State library donations.

Chapbooks and broadsides were popular self-publishing formats in the 1960s and 70s, and were also popular formats used by small press, or alternative press, publishing, a popularity in part perhaps inspired by and certainly fueled by the folk revival, which spread songs around the country by word of mouth, in small coffee houses in cities and around campuses, and in small concert venues, and which, along with the Beat writers and musicians, helped popularize and rescue poetry from the scholiastics.

James Joyce’s Pomes Penyeach is another kind of chapbook, published originally by Shakespeare & Co. (Paris) in 1927. It was published again in 1966 by Faber and Faber. Shown in this post is a Faber reprint published in 1971 that I purchased used for $1.00 some time ago. The penny each is at least literal, for Joyce, who understood the difficulties of publishing, self-publishing, and quick-scrapping, calls to mind street hawkers selling fruit from carts.

While broadsheets are usually only one page, chapbooks contain more pages, but by definition not very many pages. The Faber book is only 47 pages, and includes a “Publishers’ Note”: “In order to make this volume more substantial and to show a wider range of James Joyce’s verse, there have been added to Pomes Penyeach the following…,” and three additional poems are added, including “The Holy Office” and “Gas from a Burner,” which each run a few pages, including footnotes. The original Pomes Penyeach contained only 13 poems.