3 minutes reading time (683 words)


It’s my submissions month, so lots of fat brown envelopes are flopping onto the mat.

The furore of Christmas is also in the air. Pressure builds, pressure builds. Santa is King at the Kingdom Centre, with grandparents and small queuing up. When a poetry submission is sent recorded delivery, and I have to drive to the sorting depot at the other side of town to pick it up, I get testy.

But all three new pamphlet publications are here finally, as well as three new PoemCards. Consequently, packets are being parceled up and sent thither and hither, fro and to, hence and whence.

And as for the new hardbacked (the only HappenStance hardbacked) book by Gerry Cambridge, I have just ordered extra large padded envelopes for the customers who send for more than one (It is nice. It does make a good Christmas gift, and at the moment all copies come with a PoemCard featuring what I call ‘Gerry’s pink poem’ laid in).

I’m afraid all the special editions of Notes for Lighting a Fire, those lettered A to Z, are spoken for, so if you’ve asked for one and haven’t had it confirmed, it’s because I haven’t had your email (this sometimes happens when people hit ‘reply’ to the newsletter, instead of nell@happenstancepress.com as suggested. If this applies to you, I am sorry.) If you would like a signed copy of either Gerry's book or Peter Gilmour's pamphlet and are in Scotland, come along to the launch next week at the Scottish Poetry Library -- Saturday afternoon. There will be snacks. There will be something to imbibe. There will be some excellent people.

Stamps, stamps, stamps. I am keeping the post office going single-handed, I swear.

Rather than the usual blurb about new publications, I thought I’d share a few lines from each, some of the phrases or stanzas I’ve come to love while working on these them. Just a wee taste of the bits that crackle.  Looking at the extracts, I can see they look a little ominous—even a bit grim maybe. Remember what Kay Ryan said? “Poetry never adds to your burden. It never weighs you down.” These poems are charged with energy. They lift you up.

Besides, for anyone thinking of making a submission, there’s an insight into what I liked and continue to like, since I can’t explain that in words, only recognize it when I see it.


Sue Butler: Arson


as magpies, aging, luck. As women
gossiping. As Elgar, Tess, Kier and why.


Peter Gilmour: Taking Account

and how can they who lack holiness know

how the unhallowed spirit sticks and dies?


David Hale: The Last Walking Stick Factory

Between jobs, he designs a coffin,

roughs out measurements,
makes it snug
but with room for expansion

Sue Butler: Arson

Now she tells the tribal elders
she’s leaving the land. They mock
her desires: Fool. Look

which side your bread is buttered

(they like to speak
in metaphor).

Peter Gilmour: Taking Account

I married a woman who killed herself.
Our children then were thirteen and fourteen
and I, fifty, and God, they say, is ageless.


David Hale: The Last Walking Stick Factory

......................Our work calls for edges,

the sharper the better
. Even though I can see
what you say is true, we’re running out of lint and pins

and words for pain, and surely this is beyond probability,
this tendency of restless steel drawn as if by moon

or some other magnetic force through skin and nail.
No mere carelessness could spill so much blood.

Sue Butler: Arson

We drink tea and nothing happens
until something slight
puts down its mug, opens the door
with hardly a click.

Peter Gilmour: Taking Account

No, they are not my parents.
Mine were never that intimate,
as I have said, will say again
as many times as are required.
Were never that intimate!
Will that do? Is that enough?


David Hale: The Last Walking Stick Factory

There’s a man with a rope
running through the woods
this cold November day,

looking for a tree,
a bough—anything solid,
manageable, quick.



No comments made yet. Be the first to submit a comment
Already Registered? Login Here
Monday, 29 November 2021

By accepting you will be accessing a service provided by a third-party external to https://happenstancepress.com/