Gillian gets married on Monday. Gillian is the person who does almost all the graphics for HappenStance and she's my daughter. This week she's been not only running in and out of Edinburgh, with her boyfriend, making wedding arrangements, getting cake tins (she's doing her own wedding cake) and so on, but also sending me images for the pamphlets in hand.
Rose Cook and Sally Festing now have covers, though not quite finalised. However, it's also been a busy week with submissions coming in at the end of the July 'window' and I've been trying to keep up with logging them and acknowledgements and/or feedback. Some excellent work has come in. In fact, no bad poetry has arrived, only some I liked better than others.
I have the impression that generally people are better at presenting work than they were three years ago, and better at knowing something about the publisher. Most of them have some familiarity with some of the HappenStance publications and that's reassuring.
However, although ever so many people do download the free first chapters of How (Not) Get Your Poetry Published, fewer folk have bought the whole thing than I expected and I have given away a lot of copies! I continue to feel it says all the things people should know before they start trying to get poetry published and it even has a bit of encouragement and suggestion for old-hands who have had some difficulty in the matter. However, I'm not the best promoter in the world or I would have sent flyers to every local library in the land. Haven't time. Just haven't time . . .
Then there's the HappenStance PoemCard. I've had this idea at the back of my mind for a couple of years now but the wedding has brought it to the fore. I'm reading a sonnet by Mick Standen at the event and I thought it would be nice to put it on a card to give to guests. My own 'Falling in Love' was done on a post-card and a couple of friends have given that away at their weddings (the age and garb of the loved-one can even be customised to order).
So I started messing around with what the cards might look like, using Gillian's wedding graphic. Not postcards, this time, but stand-up cards, nearer to A5 size.
Gillian's wedding card will be somewhat different than the others, since it has the poem inside instead of on the front. The general set will have a poem and graphic on the front, blank inside (for your own special message!) Rose Cook has a poem that I particularly wanted displayed in this way. It's called 'Poem for Someone who is Juggling her Life'. That describes me precisely. The card will, I hope, be a good promotional tool as well as just a nice thing to send. Rose hasn't seen it yet herself . . .
The cards need to display poems that would be, for want of a better word, uplifting. That's an interesting idea because it makes you so aware that most poems are not. In fact, most of my favourite poems are not. In college, students often ask why all the poems we study are about sex or death (or, in the case of 'Porphyria's Lover', both.) Hm.
Anyway, I've got one by Edna Eglinton which is amusing and has a little lift, and there's Mick Standen's 'A Metaphor Shared' which I particularly love. There will be others. The card quality's not right yet though and although I acquired some nice red envelopes for the wedding, they're not the final envelopes I want to use for the PoemCards people can buy. However, subscribers will get a sample very soon.
- Gill and Jamie