Tag Archives: reading to cats

What in the World is a Chapbook?

Sometimes we get so used to the jargon of the field we’re in that we forget it’s a specialized language. And that others don’t always  know what in the heck we’re talking about when we use it.

I was thinking the other day that when I say that I wonder if Perry is a feral cat or a stray cat that the nuance between those two types of cats could be lost. A feral cat is so wild that he is not used to humans or civilization and oftentimes cannot be persuaded that we are ok. Unless quite young when the socialization begins, it might not be possible to ever get a feral cat to accept human touch. But I say that with a caveat: every cat must be treated as an individual because you just never know which feral cats can be socialized and which socialized cats will never be lapcats–based on temperament, environment, and so on.

Speaking of Perry, I have been reading him Cindy Rinne’s story in verse Quiet Lantern about a Vietnamese girl named Mai Ly who is on a spiritual quest. The farther I go into the story and the more poetic prowess I discover, the more impressed I am with the book.

Another word I’ve flung around the blog lately is chapbook. Kin Types is a chapbook, rather than a full-length poetry collection like Doll God or like Rinne’s book (which is over 100 pages). But what is a chapbook? Historically, a chapbook was a small pamphlet that was truly around before books as we know them today were invented. The first written fairy tales were chapbooks. They were small. They were a few pages. And they were really roughly printed.

Chapbooks today, though, usually meet these qualifications:

  • Generally poetry, but not always
  • Less than 48 pages in length, generally around 25-30, but even as short as 15 pages (full-length collection is around 55-75)
  • Generally has a sharper focus than a full-length collection
  • Some of the most famous poems were first published in chapbooks–poems by T.S. Eliot, William Blake, Philip Larkin, and Allen Ginsberg
  • Poems can be used in a full-length collection later (or not)
  • There are many chapbook contests and small presses publishing chapbooks
  • There is only one after-publication prize open to chapbooks in the U.S., whereas there are many for full-length books
  • Poets are encouraged to publish chapbooks, as well as full-length books, and many poets first publish a chapbook rather than a book
  • Sometimes the binding is more beautiful than that of a book
  • Sometimes the artistic quality of the binding is poor and the pages look typewritten
  • Sometimes the book is stapled or bound by cord
  • Although modestly expensive, chapbooks are not meant to make money (yup, that’s a fact and probably true of all)
  • Chapbooks are a way to take a risk and strive for art for art’s sake

I did enter Kin Types in a few contests, but they are expensive (entry around $15-25 each) and when the manuscript was accepted by Finishing Line Press for publication, I decided to go with them, rather than spend more money on contests. Still, Kin Types was a semi-finalist in the Concrete Wolf chapbook contest and a Highly Commended title in The Fool for Poetry International Chapbook Competition.

The only writing I’ve been able to do lately is a poem for my son’s wedding. It’s being framed and will be on a table with photographs of the grandparents (of the bride and groom) who have passed on.

Today is the anniversary of my maternal grandmother’s birth in 1912, two days after the Titanic sank. Her birthday was two weeks after that of my paternal grandmother (though they were born 19 years apart). They were both Aries, as is the Gardener.  It’s hard to think of anything that is similar about the three of them, except that they have all been count-on-able.

My maternal grandmother’s name was Lucille Edna, although she was known as Edna. (Luanne is created from Lucille and my mother’s middle name Ann). Edna was Class Historian at graduation (her older sister was Salutatorian the same year) and  always wanted to be a writer. She thought of herself as the “Jo March” of her family (like in Little Women).

When she was elderly and ill, she made me promise I would never give up writing. That comment from Grandma found its way into a Kin Types poem.

from Grandma’s graduation scrapbook

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Filed under #AmWriting, Book contest, Cats and Other Animals, Doll God, Family history, Kin Types, National Poetry Month, Poetry, Poetry book, Poetry Collection, Publishing, Writing, Writing contest

Reading to the Kitties

I’m happy to report that the cats at the shelter are fun to hang out with! There weren’t a lot of cats the night we worked because the others, including all the kittens, had been adopted (yay!!!). We were able to play ball with the free roaming (in the cat room) cats. Henry and Bobbette were the big scorers. Four cats were in kennels. I didn’t know why at the time, but I have since gotten the low down. Two of them I could have let out while I was there. I feel bad that I didn’t, especially for the black cat who really seemed to want to interact more with me. The other two are too hard to get back in their kennels, and I wouldn’t have wanted to “go there” on our first visit. The reason two of them have to be kenneled when they are alone is because one of the other cats doesn’t leave them alone otherwise.

Then I read them three stories that were up on my WordPress reader at that time. I looked for story-stories that were appropriate for cats.  No 50 Shades of Grey allusions for these cats under my watch ;). I read “the bingo ladies of old / Tess Tales” by Kate Crimmins, “Hennie Kirstein’s Well” by Amos van der Merwe, and “Does Kindness Matter: My Grandmother’s Legacy of Love” by Kristin Shaw on the Kindness blog. I animated my voice and gently acted out the stories. This was the perfect order to read them in, too. All the cats were enthralled and finally, near the very end, they all curled up and went to sleep–tuckered out and happy.

 

The handsome guy above (even his belly has beautiful markings) is Henry. He’s the king of the room.

 The sweetheart above (she might have a bad eye or is cross-eyed, a bit) is Bobbette. A truly darling cat who loves to play.

The black and white medium-length coat above is Felix. He’s a little shy, but came right out when hubby and I played ball with Henry and Bobbette. He also loved the stories I read to him.

This is the cat room. There are a few kennels along the walls for cats who need to be in there for their own protection when humans are not there or when they are new and acclimating to the cat room. I feel bad that I didn’t let Nakana and Betty out of their kennels, but I wasn’t sure if I could at that time.

Nakana is an all-black beauty. She was so sweet and so desperately wanted me to like her. And I do!

And then Betty might be harder to put back in the kennel, but I suspect she’s like my Tiger, so I am willing to try.

Lest you think Betty is in a small kennel, this is a 3 level townhouse!

I can’t wait to go back. On Saturday, hubby drove the animals who didn’t get adopted home from PetSmart.

For those of you wondering how my dad is doing. He was back at the hospital, very weak, but they got him going again and now he has moved to a short-term rehab facility–very new and nice–and he sounds stronger and happy to be at this place. And guess what? The facility has a dog and a cat!!! 🙂

 Cat lives in the therapy room at my father’s short-term rehab nursing center

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Filed under Arizona, Blogging, Cats and Other Animals, Creative Nonfiction, Memoir, Nonfiction, Photographs