Sunday, February 03, 2008

Happenstance – well happening!

I came across the poetry chapbook publisher Happenstance Press a little while back, through the unlikely channels of ...yes, it's true... another blog!

Matt Merritt
is a fine UK poet, based near Leicester. A keen birder (twitcher, avian maven, what-have-you) his work is a real find. He writes with a naturalist’s eye on the beauty of rural environments, peopled with dignified species (including our own!). His painterly landscapes resonate with earthed rhythms in poems such as The Creek and Walking The Horseshoe. But the real pay-off, for me, is the keen regard he brings to human relationships, in precisely crafted pieces like Directors Cut, To Be Honest and Twitch. He keeps an excellent blog and is well published at this stage, with a collection due out this year. His chapbook Making the Most of The Light is published by and available from Happenstance Press.
Primarily a poetry publisher, Happenstance also runs a short story competition and you can order their pamphlet containing the first, second and third place stories along with one commended story, from their online shop. The stand-out piece for me was the story Going Out by Katy Darby. I won’t say where it came in the placings, but for a measly £3 + p&p you can find out yourself – money well spent! In the light of the apparently haphazard cuts in Arts Council England funding, small UK publishers like this need the support of punters more than ever. Why not do your bit and buy a title or two. Better still, take out a subscription to their regular journal Sphinx, which generally contains a variety of insightful articles on the vagaries of publishing poetry by folks at the coalface.

Of the titles I’ve bought so far, the standard of both content and design make spending a few quid well worth while. Check it out (and order Matt’s chapbook while you’re at it).

There are plenty of Irish poetry publishers who produce the goods in difficult and far-from-wealth-generating circumstances too – so don’t forget Lapwing Poetry, Salmon Poetry and Daedelus to name but a few. For the price of a mediocre bottle of wine you could give your spirit a kick that may still be intoxicating and inspiring many years from now!