We’ve always loved chapbooks for their brevity and intensity. At a few dozen pages, a great chapbook is the perfect reading experience for the 21st century—not too long, not too short: They’re Goldilocks of the poetry world. So we wanted to do for chapbooks what we’ve done for poems with the Rattle Poetry Prize—provide a fair, fun, and friendly way to make the most of what they offer. The idea for this project came from our conversation with Jan Heller Levi, where she described how the Walt Whitman Award launched her career: “It was wonderful, but it was also a bad introduction to the world of poetry publishing. [Fox laughs] As if every publisher is going to send out 5,000 copies and your book will be everywhere.” Every publisher can’t do that—but Rattle can.
While most chapbook contests offer maybe $500 and 25 copies of your chapbook, we’re going to give one poet something special. Every year, at least one winner will receive:
Distribution to Rattle’s 7,000+ subscribers.
In a world where a bestselling full-length poetry book means 1,000 copies sold, the winner will reach an audience seven times as large on the first day alone—an audience that includes hundreds of other literary magazines, presses, and well-known poets. This will be a chapbook to launch a career.
And maybe the best part is this: Every Rattle subscriber will receive a copy of the winning chapbook without the subscription costing them an extra dime. Subscriptions rates aren’t going to be rising, but, beginning in 2016, subscribers—including everyone who enters this contest—receive at least one award-winning chapbook each year as a bonus.
We can only promise to publish one each year, but in 2017 we published three chapbooks, with selections shipped along with the fall, winter, and spring issues of Rattle.
January 15, 2018