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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Stirrup Pants Chapbook Store Opens on Cherokee Street

Posted By on Thu, Jul 23, 2009 at 8:20 AM

Stirrup Pants, St. Louis' -- and possibly the world's -- only chapbook consignment store opened at 2122 Cherokee Street last Saturday, July 18. It will be open every Saturday from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m.

"I'm hoping this will foster conversation and collaboration," says Maggie Ginestra, Stirrup Pants' founder, proprietor and sole employee. And, no, she doesn't anticipate making a profit. That's not the point.

click to enlarge An assortment of chapbooks. - FLICKR.COM/PHOTOS/CAPABLEMOTION
  • An assortment of chapbooks.

Chapbooks have a long and honorable history, dating back to the early days of the printing press. Printers would publish poetry and broadsides and even novels on flimsy paper and sell them to the public for far less than the cost of bound books. Today chapbooks primarily exist as a medium to distribute poetry, though Ginestra says the form is growing to encompass prose, both fiction and non-fiction.

"I slowly started getting exposed to chapbooks as a graduate student at Washington University," explains Ginestra, who recently obtained an MFA in poetry. "I saw my friends reading them, but there was no place to buy them in town. Reading something online is not like reading it and holding it."

In February, Ginestra attended the Associated Writing Programs (AWP) conference in Chicago and pitched the idea of a chapbook store to some of the small publishers who were there selling their own chapbooks.

"There was so much enthusiasm," she recalls. "They were like, 'So you want to be a venue for our books, not make your own?' This made me think the idea could be viable. But I would have to structure my life around this, live above the shop, operate on a consignment basis."

The name Stirrup Pants was pure inspiration. "The word popped into my head," Ginestra remembers. "I wanted something kind of fun because poetry can seem awfully serious."

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