So we have two new pamphlets at last!

One is a debut – Robbie Burton’s Someone Else’s Street. One of the poems in it keeps sticking in my mind and I woke thinking about it.

It’s ‘Dawn, Lizard Point’, in which the poet looks out through a ‘picture window’ to sea. She sees, briefly, in lighthouse beam, a man fiercely paddling a canoe through the waves. Then he disappears into the mist.

I keep seeing that man in my mind’s eye, and this in turn reminds me how poems are often like clues. They focus on something we once saw or heard or sensed, something slight at the time, but it sticks in the memory. It seems like a clue (a clue to what’s really going on—or a symbol of it).

Someone Else’s Street has a number of clue poems in it. Even individual lines can be like that. ‘When fat rain pockles the pond…’. There’s a delicious clue if ever there was one.

And Robbie’s pamphlet has a number of mysterious connections with the other one published at the same time, Jennifer Copley’s Some Couples—which was originally to have been titled just Couples, until I recalled a Valley Press publication by Michael Stewart with this very title. So it had to change to Some Couples, and thus two pamphlets at the same time begin with ‘Some’.

There are other synchronicities. Among the poems included, Jennifer has ‘Cellar’; Robbie has ‘Coal Cellar’. Where Jennifer has ‘Some Couples’, Robbie has ‘Uncoupled’. Robbie’s glimpse of the man at Lizard Point is paralleled by Jennifer’s ‘Fleswick Bay’ where she finds ‘a bunch of fresh freesias / wedged in the cliff with a note— / I miss you, I love you. Louise.’

So, yes, more clues from Jennifer. A line that sticks in my head is ‘She was stuck in her life and couldn’t climb out’. But this is a poet with haunting phrases that follow you around—like ‘her mouth that wouldn’t say goodbye’ and—perhaps even my favourite—‘the badger known as Graham’. Tiny stories. Odd angles. Jennifer Copley sets off in a natural conversational tone but can end almost anywhere.

I also woke this morning thinking about my post-pamphlet list of tasks, and whether I’d covered them all, so I thought I’d share them. Useful for those thinking about publishing, and I’m always hoping more people will.

Also a reminder of the practical side of all of this: it’s not just poetry here, you know. It’s packing and planning and punctuating and parcelling and processing and posting, and puffing and panting our way through the waves.


Post-pamphlet process

Scan cover and save in suitable format for use on website etc
Upload the pamphlet details, ISB number and cover scan to Nielsen book data so it can be ordered through book shops & at same time keep my own record
Create flyer
Get flyers printed
Create shop page with pamphlet details for sale
Create poet’s page on website (or update existing page if it’s a second publication)
Add book details to Amazon inventory
Write about new pamphlet on blog and say something I haven’t already said on a) the back jacket b) the flyer c) the shop page or d) the newsletter
Tweet and Facebook the blog link
Update ‘publications in print’ list with new publications, remove any that are sold out and upload to website
Put aside 6 publisher copies in the box in the roof
Put aside copies for entry to Michael Marks etc
Post the free author copies and some fliers to author
Send out the first review copies
Send out gift copies to those and such as those
Send out legal deposit copies to Boston Spa and Agency for Legal Deposit Libraries
Send copy to Poetry Library at Southbank
Send copy to Scottish Poetry Library
Pay the printer
Pay the artist for the graphic on the cover
Publish the shop page created earlier
Supply early orders that come in through website
Find space under the stairs for the new boxes of pamphlets and tell Matt they won’t be there forever
Organise mailshot to postal subscribers to tell them about the pamphlets (order more envelopes, stamps etc)
Write newsletter for mailshot and print 350 copies
Organise electronic mailshot: put the electronic documents in the right place on the website
Do electronic notification for online only subscribers
Send out electronic news about the new pamphlets to people who signed up on email list on the home page
Help publicise launch event if there is one
Remind the author about review suggestions
Collect up all the drafts and versions and sixteen cover designs, and flyer copies and letters and paper records associated with this pamphlet, put them in a labelled cardboard folder with one final printed pamphlet, and file in a box in the roof
Update the accounts
Make a cup of coffee
Start work on the next pamphlet

This is the publisher's grandmother's day card from her 3 year old granddaughter. It is A6 landscape white card covered in brightly coloured textured stickers in orange, pink, gold, purple and green. Two are butterflies.  Three are dailies. One is a tulip. One is a green fence. Five seem to be space-hoppers. There is no writing.

Caption: The publisher’s grandmother’s day card 



Publishers are not to be trusted, and a poet (thank you, Oscar Wilde) can survive anything but a misprint. Yes, I did it again.

Publishers are not to be trusted, and a poet (thank you, Oscar Wilde) can survive anything but a misprint. Yes, I did it again.

We live in a marketing age and it is very easy for poets to get lost. It is necessary to promote them, or at least we’ve accepted that it is. Hence Twitter and tweeting, Facebook and fleeting, Blurb and bleating.

I do my best in this world of pzazz and huzza. However, I make mistakes. I blame the Fs. After all, I never had a problem with Cliff Ashby. It is because Cliff Forshaw’s second name also begins with . . . F.

But I should explain: when people arrive at the HappenStance website, they can elect to receive the email newsletter. Quite a lot do just this. The emails go out three or four times a year, with news of new publications and exciting (sic) events. From my point of view, this is a good thing, since it elicits a small skirmish of orders, and that’s what keeps the boat afloat, the flag flying and the metaphors mixing.

On the other hand, it is one more thing to do in the list of necessities for each new publication. Things such as:

  • registration with Nielsen
  • bio page and photo on website
  • scan cover for online shop
  • information data for online shop
  • open sales file and author address labels
  • do the marketing flyer and electronic flyer
  • do the review slip
  • ask poet for review addresses
  • remember dog chews for printer’s dogs
  • pick up publication from printer
  • check bank balance
  • pay printer
  • pay artist
  • post out review copies
  • post out complimentary copies
  • send to copyright libraries
  • send to Scottish Poetry Library
  • send to National Poetry Library
  • send author copies to author
  • send cheque or more copies to author
  • enter for PBS quarterly choice (3 copies)
  • send to my mother
  • create a storage space
  • include new publication in the diagram that helps me find where in the spare bedroom each publication is hiding
  • send out for Sphinx review (three reviewers who are not current authors)
  • mention in blog

So the email newsletter comes last. I don’t want it to be a straight repeat of what’s written elsewhere because that’s boring. So I write something new.

Last week it was something about Jennifer Copley’s Living Daylights, Chapter 5 of The HappenStance Story, and Cliff Forshaw’s Tiger.

Or it should have been Cliff Forshaw’s Tiger, but Cliff proved my downfall. I called him Geoff. I have a good friend called Geoff, whom I email every week. That could have had something to do with it.

I don’t think Cliff Forshaw gets the newsletter. He hasn’t said anything about it yet . . .





Chapter Five of The HappenStance Story is written and at the printer. It is all very well being super-efficient and so on, but think what happened to the Roman Empire.

Chapter Five of The HappenStance Story is written and at the printer. It is all very well being super-efficient and so on, but think what happened to the Roman Empire.

There are more subscribers than ever before. So this time the mailshot really will extend to nearly 200 people: at least £160.00 in stamps alone. And if we allow five minutes per parcel to update and print the labels, collect the flyers and inserts, put in the packet and stick the stamp on, that’s 1000 minutes which is about 17 hours non-stop, which is nearly a week of spending three hours a day doing just this.

Have I made a monster? I hope not. It is  an entertaining chapter, I think, and it took me a long time to write. However, sometimes I regret living with myself and my complicated plans.

The schedule for 2011 is done. Altogether there will be 13 pamphlets and one book. The full collection will be by Gerry Cambridge and it will be terrific. The pamphlets are a marvellous set too, but then I would say that, wouldn’t I? You’ll have to make up your own mind — hopefully after buying some of them. Please buy some of them, she added weakly.

Jackie Kay, in the Guardian yesterday, said there’s definitely a poetry renaissance happening. It is a very exhausting renaissance from the point of view of a minor, and aging, midwife. (if you follow that  Guardian link, do look at the URL at the top of your webpage. I love the end: poetry-poets-stage-roar-renaissance.)

The schedule for 2012 is also pencilled in, though I’m not sharing it yet because some of the poets are ‘maybes’: it depends what they send in July.

But today (hurray-poetry-poets-stage-roar-renaissance) I am proud to announce Jennifer Copley’s Living Daylights has been delivered. It was a painless birth and the bairn is about to go into the online shop. It is a beautiful sequence about the dead, all of whom arrive one day and move back into the author’s house. It is surreal, funny and sad, and close to my heart.

Cliff Forshaw’s Tiger is still waiting for its footprints, but they will arrive later today. It is another in the sequence series and it will be born by Valentine’s Day, footprints and all, without an anaesthetic. More of that next week.