Category Archives: chapbooks


NewPages raves about Charlotte Pence’s “nuanced” and “refined” poetry chapbook: “Varied in form and length, each poem adds another link to the narrative chain that brings together a complex and sophisticated extended poem that dwells on our evolutionary desire to communicate…Displaying a keen sense for nuanced storytelling while remaining in the realm of carefully refined poetic language, Pence creates multiple narrative lines within the limitations of the chapbook. Each condensation of language allows the reader to read and re-read the chapbook, piecing together new arcs every time.” Buy it here.

Reminder: BLP at the Boston Book Festival: Tomorrow!

If you’ll be near Boston this weekend, make sure to visit Copley Square and the Boston Book Festival! BLP will be holding court at Booth 14 from 10am-5pm, showing off our ridiculously awesome catalog. Special bonus: author Helen Marie Casey, whose biography of Florence Hosmer is so gorgeous, will sign copies of her book at noon. Hope to see you there!

TJ Beitelman and Black Lawrence Press Team Up for a Fourth Time

I’ve been asked a number of times to describe the best part of my job as an editor. My answer: discovery. What I love about being an editor is also what I love about being a reader–finding an author who has written something wonderful, something that shifts the way I look at the world, the people in it, my place in it, the words that I use to talk about it. I have very fond memories of reading, for the first time, authors who would go on to becoming lifelong companions–Steinbeck, Atwood, Moore. Discovering their books for the first time was a delicious experience. Not only did I love what I read, but I knew that there was more to come.

As an editor, finding a true gem in the submissions pile is a thrill. And I experienced that thrill when I first read Pilgrims: A Love Story by T.J. Beitelman.  Pilgrims was an entry in the Spring, 2008 Black River Chapbook Competition. It was clear after a few pages of reading that this manuscript was going to be a top contender. By the time I finished reading, I had a very strong sense that I had found the winner. We finished reading all of the submissions to the competition and shortly thereafter contacted TJ to let him know that he’d won.

But Pilgrims was just the beginning. In 2010, Black Lawrence Press accepted In Order to Form a More Perfect Union, TJ’s full-length poetry collection. There are many things that I love about this collection, but I will borrow a line from Maurice Manning’s blurb to summarize: “The reach of this exuberant and anguished book is potent, and made more so by the force of restraint.” In short, the magic was still there. And then some.

But this would not be the last time the work of TJ Beitelman would hit me in the heartbone. After we accepted Union, TJ sent us a novel he’d be working on. John the Revelator took over my world as I read. It’s due out next year, so stay tuned. Then, just last week, I read Americana, TJ’s most recent chapbook. I’ll leave you with this, one of the poems from the new collection, which I accepted for publication mere hours after reading. But first, I’d like to return to that question about the best part of my job. The best part is discovering authors like TJ Beitelman who wow me from the beginning and keep returning with more and even better work.


Diane Goettel
Executive Editor, Black Lawrence Press


       Rose:           I’m all turned around Charlie—which way is the east shore?
       Charlie:     The way we’re swimming old girl!

Had I not been zooming through the Cosmos,
as yet unfettered by material forms, I could
have told Bogey: It’s always the detonators
that take some doing. Everything’s a powder
keg: a ratty vessel taking on water or a thimble-
sized universe. No matter—it’s all waiting
to combust. The trick is the tinder. The spark.
The thing that transforms potential to kinetic.
Could be, yes, cartridges, nails, boxes of soft
wood—a makeshift torpedo at the water line.
But why think small? After all, something
touched off the exponential cosmic explosion
we’re swimming through. What’re the odds
it was a broken boat, floating in wait? Billions
and billions to one. It had to be something
like a Rose: sharp-tongued, chiseled, gorgeous
with a dirty face, obvious in her catholic charms.
In the face of such a face, even Kaiser’s doomed
navy men would freely choose to do the deed,
dutifully pledge to let no man put it asunder,
even as the impregnable world they know erupts.



Grady Harp, via Literary Aficionado, has lovely things to say about Charlotte Pence’s prizewinning poetry chapbook: “[Pence] establishes herself quite quietly as an artist to heed. The collection of poems is only 20 pages in length, but the manner in which she ties together all of the poems in this little tome, each poem enhancing the others – a fact that becomes obvious only as the last entry is read, and then the reader realizes that this is not a collection of poems but a binding of synapses both profound and gentle – this technique is subtle, creative, and challenging.” Seriously, this chap is a must-read: buy a copy here (and read the rest of this great review here).

Upcoming Reading: Amelia Martens

Amelia Martens, whose poetry chapbook Purgatory won the Black River Chapbook Competition, will read this Thursday at West Kentucky Community and Technical College in Peducah, KY, at 2:00pm. Here are the details:

October 25, 2:00-3:00pm – MLRC Library Reading Room
Amelia Martens will be reading from her chapbook Purgatory in the Matheson Library on October 25th at 2:00. Purgatory has been described as “one stop past The Twilight Zone, a constricting landscape where the threads of daily life tighten around you.” Books will be for sale and the author will sign them afterwards. Refreshments will be provided.

Charlotte Pence & Adam Prince at the Southern Festival of Books: This Saturday

Don’t miss Charlotte Pence (The Branches, the Axe, the Missing) and Adam Prince (The Beautiful Wishes of Ugly Men) at the Southern Festival of Books in Nashville this weekend!

Saturday, October 13
3:00-4:30 pm, Nashville Public Library, Library Auditorium
Ladies, Gentlemen, Losers and Loners: Three Story Collections
Adam Ross, Adam Prince, Claire Vaye Watkins

Saturday, October 13
12:00-1:30 pm, Nashville Public Library, Special Collections Room
Zooming In: Poems of Seeing the Eternal in the Everday
Kate Buckley, Charlotte Pence, Adam Vines

Upcoming Reading: Russel Swensen

NYC: Celebrate the release of Russel Swensen’s prizewinning poetry chapbook SANTA ANA next Thursday, October 18, at Bar 2A. Free drinks and killer poems: how can you resist?

Thursday, October 18 @ 7pm
Bar 2A
25 Avenue A
New York, NY 10003

New Review of SAINT MONICA

Glint Literary Journal recently reviewed Mary Biddinger’s chapbook Saint Monica, and after a careful reading, concludes “How is it that a saint survives in the twentieth century? Biddinger’s collection seems to suggest that she does so by nurturing an inner sinner.” Read more here, and buy a copy of this acclaimed chapbook here. (Also, keep an eye out for Mary’s brand-new poetry collection, O Holy Insurgency!)

Nick McRae wins the De Novo Poetry Prize

Some great news: Nick McRae’s first full-length collection, The Name Museum, was named the winner of the De Novo Poetry Prize, and will be published next year by C&R Press. Congrats, Nick! Keep an eye out for his forthcoming chapbook Mountain Redemption, winner of the Fall 2011 Black River Chapbook Competition. (And also, if you’re near Columbus, Ohio on Oct. 20, go see Nick read live!)

THE BRANCHES, THE AXE, THE MISSING is a “is a powerful, dynamic work”

The good folks over at The Rumpus recently reviewed Charlotte Pence’s prizewinning poetry chapbook The Branches, The Axe, The Missing, writing “The language here is staccato and luminous, sonically and metaphorically reflecting the first intimations of community, of humanity encircling fire to feed and protect itself. Playful and rich, the language shifts again into the relatively prose-like, in which objective information is aestheticized, made poetry.” We agree–this chapbook is exceptional! Read the entire review here, and buy your copy here.