Chapbook versus Full Length

If you were going to publish one last collection of poetry before you died–what would it be? A chapbook, usually less than forty pages, is informal. It has an ephemeral quality, maybe the sense of still being in process. It is a bit open-ended, as if there might still be more to come.
A book of poetry feels more complete, perhaps more assertive. It summarizes.
Poets–and editors–put a lot of effort into ordering a book. But readers may thumb through (even virtually) and read at random.
As to theme–I frankly tend to prefer strict theme at chapbook rather than book length. Theme as a necessity of arrangement came in mid-way in my career. I’ve certainly done it, and enjoyed it in others. But I like a full-length book that sprawls a bit.
Some poets like a Collected. That certainly is impressive, even scholarly. Some consider that too rigid (and collecteds tend to not sell well). I like a Selected myself–both for the greats and for the contemporary. If I want more, I’ll look further.
All this said, as a reader, I’ll take what I can get from poets I love. The serious collection, the off-the-cuff micro chap.
I had a real life discussion about this with a literary executor. It got me thinking. Given my current preoccupations, I’d probably like my last poems to be installed on a walking path, or written in sand, or given to the wind.
And you?

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About Miriam Sagan

I'm blogging about poetry, land art, haiku, women artists, road trips, and Baba Yaga at Miriam's Well ( The well is ALWAYS looking to publish poetry on our themes, sudden fiction, and guest bloggers and musers.

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