Chapbooks for Change Project

Bryant University - May 2017.

The composition is the thing seen by every one living in the living they are doing, they are the composing of the composition that at the time they are living is the composition of the time in which they are living – Gertrude Stein, “Composition as Explanation.”

Chapbooks for Change invites student writers to examine intersectionality and intertextuality through research, writing, and publishing: words matter, how can words hold the space for change?  

In the 17th and 18th centuries, chapbooks were paper leaflets distributed to share everything from children’s stories and folk tales to political or religious views.  They delivered “information” to the masses – a transmitter of “popular” culture for the populous.  They created public spaces on the page.  Today, chapbooks are the “demo-tapes” or “first collections” of the poetry world – an introduction, extended, held, passed.  In a time of “alternative” facts, hash tags, and paid “fake” news, this project uses the chapbook to hold a space for contemplation, remediation, and investigation.  It creates a pocket of time to turn over – paper-page-hand-word – an invitation to sit with and sift through. 

Using the principles of gift economy, guerilla distribution, and eco-linguistics, writers have positioned copies of their chapbooks throughout the Bryant University Library.  This tactic is a response to the current conversation on borders, boundaries, migration, and immigration – how does the undocumented document move through/in/of/with?  What role does intertextuality play in the finding and reading of the text?  Coordinates are created at the intersection of the critical and the creative, the poetic and the political; a reorientation is possible.  Each chapbook has a QR code so that readers can “check in” or rather “check out” the text.  The reader is then encouraged to find a new public space for the chapbook: another place in the library, another library, a bench, a bus, a .  Readers will be able to track the travel – to see the trace – to watch the language, the information move.  Comments welcome. 

harvest songs fall poetry festival.

Springfield, IL. September 2014.

Held at the beautiful Lincoln Memorial Gardens and co-sponsored by Benedictine University at Springfield, Harvest Songs was a celebration of the season and an opportunity for reflection on Autumn's warmth and bounty. Attendees variously tied original or favorite song lyrics to the "Poet-tree," penned gourd-inspired haikus, wrote one-word sensory descriptions about the tastes, sounds, and smells of Fall, and wove biodegradable strips of paper and yarn into a handmade loom that was later installed in the gardens for the birds to scavenge for their winter nests.

littoral: restore the shore one breath at a time.

Bay Head, NJ. June 2013.

Littoral combined an all-levels beach yoga practice and community poetry reading in the wake of Superstorm Sandy to negotiate a healing dialogue between body (yoga), earth (ritual), and word (poetry). Jersey Shore residents no longer live at the edge of the sea, but are themselves the space between land and water: the threshold of the body. In this indefinable place, one lives between breaths; between storms; between waves; cultivating an acceptance of impermanence to build a sustainable relationship with the land. Behold the "hardy and adaptable" creatures of the littoral zone. For more on this event, click here.

sunshine canyon reading.

Boulder, CO. October 2012.

Community creativity can heal both physical and mental injury, by connecting us to those parts of the earth to which we press our feet: a meeting in the middle of the scar. The Sunshine Canyon Reading responded to the trauma of a severe forest fire that devastated not only the canyon, but its human and animal inhabitants. Featuring indigenous land rights activists and guest poets Marcelo Games, Burt Rashbaum, Mary Parker, Jenna Kotch, Ariella Ruth, Cody Spyker, Andrea Bogue, and April Joseph, in addition to work from Precipice members Kristen Park and Jess Hagemann and an eco-somatic exercise led by Jade Lascelles, the ceremony inspired word, ritual, and healing for all. 

Photo by Chris Baddick.

Photo by Chris Baddick.

stone cold poetry fun run.

Boulder, CO. February 2012.

The Precipice Collective's first event, the Stone Cold Poetry Fun Run, traced a 2-mile route through chilly downtown Boulder. With stops at several key landmarks on Pearl Street and the surrounding area for poetry readings and spontaneous poetry "happenings," both participants and passersby contributed individual lines to a community poem in the making.