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Time to celebrate – the anthology has gone into the black and the printer has been paid.

This is a good day…almost as good for us as the day when your copy of REMEMBER dropped through your letterbox and you saw your work in print, possibly for the first time.

We always worry, just a little and hold our breath for the magic moment when each anthology pays for itself. This is the time when we behind the scenes at Paragram relax and begin to plan the next big adventure.

We are wondering about doing something new for 2015. Up to now we have helped in the region of 300 poets into print for the first time with our anthologies and the Poetry Prize.

The anthologies are a great success, each bringing to the market a varied collection of new voices and they stand shoulder to shoulder within the collections. We are wondering whether this could be the year when we help one poet publish their poems in a mini-collection of their own. This would be in the form of a chapbook or pamphlet containing 24 pages of poems by one lucky poet.

A chapbook is “a small book or pamphlet containing poems, ballads, stories, or religious tracts” (dictionary). For those of you not familiar with the term its origins date back to the English Early Modern period. Chapbooks were small – most often twenty-four pages, sold without a cover or with a plain wrap. Timeless, the early chapbooks often sprang out of folklore or oral tales gathered on to the printed page for the first time. Chapbooks were so called because they were sold by peddlers known as chapmen. Chap comes from the Old English for trade, so a chapman was literally a dealer who sold books. Chapmen would carry boxes containing the conveniently sized editions, either in town on street corners, or traveling through the countryside.

The term chapbook is still used today to refer to short booklets and for many poets this is the next step from appearing in anthologies and bridges the gap – the enormous gap – to a full collection of 40 plus poems.

Our challenge is to find a way to make this Paragram Chapbook Prize possible – yours, as followers of Paragram and poets, is to look at your work and see how you could group together your wriiting into an interesting and exciting thin volume of 24 pages. You will need to consider the way your poems sit side by side; the way each plays off the previous and next as they appear on the pages; whether they will all follow one theme – if not how will each earn its place in the book and what will meld then into a whole; and not least you will need to find an unusual and arresting title for your pamphlet.

Watch this blog for breaking news of this amazing new challenge from Paragram.

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