About Chapiteau and Chapbooks

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About Chapiteau

Chapiteau is a French word for the tents used by traveling circuses and theater troupes. Chapiteau Press was founded by Ann Aspell and Jim Schley in 1999 to present sequences of poems in typographically beautiful settings; and in collaboration with performers, composers, and visual artists, to give audiences dynamic new experiences of poetry.

The more concentrated form of a chapbook allows both writer and reader a chance to enjoy the distinct music of the work and to appreciate the ways in which the parts amplify the whole. Our aim is to introduce new poets to a wide readership, as well as to offer a venue for better-known authors to be heard between books.

About Chapbooks

The term chapbook was first used in the nineteenth century to describe the small pamphlets, popular literature, and ballads sold by itinerant peddlers known as “chapmen.” The word derives from the Old English word for barter.
Because chapbooks are brief (usually 32 pages or less) and have hand-sewn or stapled bindings and therefore no spine to show on a bookshelf, you won’t often find them at large booksellers. True to their origins in the traveling peddler’s pack, however, you will find them sold at readings and at poetry gatherings. They are also available from the publisher.


“Chapmen, able to spread more pamphlets…
than all the booksellers of London.”

—H. Chettle, 1841