Being a HappenStance subscriber makes you feel part of a community: newletters turn up, full of chat, info and opinion, while a regular flow of pamphlets invites you to discover new names. And then there are the occasional surprises. Like the recent unexpected arrival of A Demand and a Promise, an essay by Helena Nelson, HappenStance editor. Subtitled A poetry manifesto, it's a six page text that homes in on a key issue in contemporary poetry: the lack of readers.
There are lots of thriving creative writing groups, M.A.s and Phds, lots of people wanting to be poets and seeking publication, lots of working poets who need students to keep their courses running and mortgages paid, lots of funding applications, but we're short on readers, and readers are our life-blood. Here are a couple of quotes from the concluding lines to Helena Nelson's essay:
"...If you want to write poetry, you can do exactly what you like. - just throw your text into the ring. But you will need readers, if the poems are to have a chance of being read and remembered. And a good and loyal reader is harder to find than a poet...."
"...Readers of poetry have lost confidence, and therefore poetry has lost readers. Many people don't know what to make of the current cacophony of alleged "poems" all competing for attention. Some wonderful pieces of writing get lost in the hubbub, and there are many bluffers. But if we could change the focus by looking at each poem as no more and no less than a demand for close attention, coupled with a promise of something durable and valuable, perhaps everyone would feel empowered..."
I'm at the front of the queue to sign up to Nell's manifesto. What about you?
All the Naked Daughters, Anna Kisby, (Against the Grain Poetry Press 2017), £5. This beautifully produced pamphlet with its elegant cover – the first from ...