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Getting your poetry published

OPENING THE WINDOW AGAIN

WINDOWA

Sometimes the catch sticks a little. This window hasn't been open in a long time. A bit of tugging and scraping may be involved. Gently ... gently ...    

Lord knows – I don't want to break the window.                       

But what, as a friend in peril wrote recently on FaceBook, is the point? And what is this 'window' anyway?

For me, it's a publisher's reading window, and it serves two purposes.

First, I spend a lot of time in the house, producing poetry publications, editing this and that, brooding over current poetry hype, drowning in emails, trying not to be depressed by social media and so on. I want to keep my finger on the pulse of what's happening out there among the extraordinary unhyped writers. What poems are you writing and why? What's really going on?

Second, this small press (HappenStance) values its subscribers almost above all else. They are a unique reading resource. Many of them are also poets. So for the poets, it is a kind of payback. I ask them to read some of the publications I make. In return, I offer to read some of their own poems as well as I can. 

Do I ever offer to publish a person's work on the strength of six poems encountered in a reading window? Hardly ever. But that's not necessarily the reason people send them, and certainly not the reason I read them.

It's more likely that a relationship develops over time, over several windows. It could be a publishing relationship. It could be a friendship.

And in that time, the poet tests whether I am a good reader for them. My feedback is constructive and heartening for some. But there are also people who (quite reasonably) think 'what planet is this woman on?'

This is absolutely not just about publishing. Nor is it a secret and fiendish way of making money out of you (the HS subscription costs at most £12.50 and I spend at least an hour on each person's poems – twice a year).

But if you are thinking of publishing your work, perhaps you need to risk the feedback of an honest reader, a critical friend, and here is a low-risk, toe-in-the-water test.

You might not think you have any choice of publishers. Wrong. As I said in my book How (Not) To Get Your Poetry Published, 'Consider all your options – there are invariably more than you think'.

But publishing poetry is not the most important thing. It's simply a means to an end.

What is the most important thing? First: writing the best poems you can, the poems that (as Larkin said) only you can write. Second: finding a few good readers for them.

Precisely one week from now, I'm opening that window so I can see to read. 

It will be absolutely wide open. Let the light come in.

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HOT CROSS PAMPHLETS

My last blog entry dealt with the ‘post-pamphlet process’. I’m mid-pamphlet this week so thought I’d share a bit of that too, rather than writing about hot cross buns. (I may write about the first stage one day, and even the buns, but not today.)

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FOURTEEN TIPS FOR DEALING WITH REJECTION

I don’t mean in love, or in life. I’m talking poems here.

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Marcia Menter
It's the form-letter rejections that get me. You mean they didn't think enough of my work to plug in a short personalized phrase? ... Read More
Sunday, 05 February 2017 14:31
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What makes a successful poet?

Or should I put it another way: what makes a poet successful?

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Verbs leaning through the window and other coincidences

The coincidences in the poems sent in to me during the December window ARE uncanny.

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Gill Learner
Oh dear. I'd better have look at a number of last lines!
Saturday, 07 January 2017 12:12
Marcia Menter
Sunday mornings I'd read Nell's blog feel gifted, if slightly foxed have no egrets. Blimey! It's Saturday!... Read More
Saturday, 07 January 2017 14:31
Janis Clark
I shall check that my verbs are standing upright and living in the present - for most of the time, anyway! Great advice, as usual... Read More
Sunday, 08 January 2017 07:13
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Rodents through the window

Forget horses. Today it is wasps and rats.

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