Opening the Windows

Remember the joke about windows?

It’s the one with four experts in a car that breaks down in the middle of the desert, and they all try different methods to get it started – a physicist and a geologist, I seem to remember. and even a priest (no prizes for guessing his solution). All of their fixes fail. But the last one is a Microsoft engineer who suggests they close all the windows, turn the engine off, wait a couple of minutes, and then start it again. Which obviously works.

But that’s a kind of Windows I’m not thinking about. I’m thinking about submissions windows. I have no idea who invented this term. Still I picked it up and have used it ever since. It seemed to make sense at the time, though it was the idea of closing the windows that attracted me. Accepting submissions all year doesn’t mix with actually producing publications – not when there’s only one of you – so if you open a window and let everything in, you have to close it again before it gets out of hand. So I do.

Sending poems between July 4 and July 26 is best.

Sending them on July 30th is not good, and you know what happened to Peter Pan when the window was shut.

For me, the reading months are also a matter of upstairs and downstairs. Upstairs, the literal and metaphorical window is usually closed (though the door is open). I sit at this desk and batter away at a keyboard and pore over a screen that increasingly drives me demented because there is so MUCH to do up here and so many emails flying hither and thither in the middle of everything else, and so many CAUSES and BLOGs and private messages and THUNDERCLAPs and things to buy and see and do and read and change on the website, and write and amend and proofread and typeset and complain about and fix and PAY for. And I have to get people to BUY the CURRENT set of books, let alone produce more. I am prone to headaches. The upstairs world is not good for headaches.

It’s better downstairs if I can just get there. That’s where the pile of books and pamphlets on the sofa is getting higher and higher (like the clothes in the ironing basket). I read some of them, or bits of them, in the late evening, and intend, next day, to write some OPOI upstairs, though latterly this hasn’t happened because of the maelstrom. (But please note there are two new Alan Buckley OPOIs, written by other people, which may be of interest to those of you who have read The Long Haul, or are thinking about it.)

It makes me happy to get downstairs during the reading windows. That’s one of the very good things about those times of year. I start the day on the sofa, or at the dining table, or sometimes even in the garden, and I read all morning, and usually some of the afternoon as well. I have to do it this way, because the noise of messages flying in at me off of the internet upstairs is not good for reading poems. It’s another reason why I prefer poetry on paper to poetry on a screen. Paper is quieter. I get fewer headaches with paper.

Anyway, I’m getting ready to go downstairs. The reading window opens at the start of July, though I shan’t actually start doing anything until July 5th, because I am away for a couple of days before that. This is not a call for pamphlet submissions, though if you’re burning to suggest one, you can. Remember (you will know this if you’ve read my book) that publishers have too many publications waiting to be tackled all the time. They are really looking for reasons to say NO to getting any more. Until something so tempting arrives that – sometimes against their better judgement – they commit.

So is how it will work at HappenStance from next Friday for approximately four weeks.

If you want to send an idea for a pamphlet publication (like you might with other publishers), then send up to four poems by snail with SAE,  an outline of the idea for the whole publication and a bit of information about yourself and your background. A pitch. I’ll let you know if I want to see more poems. Mainly I deal in first pamphlets.

Alternatively, you may not be thinking about a whole publication. You might want to send four poems just to get some feedback. This is mainly what my reading windows are for. I like to read and respond to individual poems and individual poets. I get interested in many of them. Over time, if those poets keep sending stuff, I get to know them better. Sometimes I end up publishing a set of poems by one of those poets. Mainly I don’t. 

If you’re a HappenStance subscriber, you get a slightly better deal. You can send up to six poems by snail or three by electronic means. I prefer snail, but I understand completely that for those subscribers outside the UK, email is the logical medium (I will come upstairs to read those poems) and nell at, formatted in the usual way, will find me. Remind me that you are a subscriber, please.

Before sending anything, please check out the guidelines for formatting and so on. If you generally fit in with my preferences, it will mean I read your work in a much calmer and nicer window-frame of mind.  You know it makes sense. There are fuller details about everything on the submissions page.

Right. I have one hand on the latch and I’m looking at the stairs. Five . . . days . . . to . . . go.




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