Poetry Pamphlet Reviews & Features

Run by HappenStance Press

Article Index

You’re going to be hosting events and readings – where?

We’ll be doing our first readings, exhibitions and conversations in Cornwall, at Helston Folklore Museum and at Terre Verte Gallery in Altarnun. Terre Verte will be stocking our books and will be a regular venue for readings, workshops and events. We’re also in talks with a few Scottish venues for a little tour. We have forthcoming titles from Melanie Challenger and Kate Walters, both of which are deeply rooted in Scotland. So we would really like to present these books in place, so to speak, especially at the more rural and remote venues.

What other publishers may have influenced you? Whose work do you admire? Tell me about a recent pamphlet you rate highly.

Ah, where to start. This could turn into a long answer. How about we start with Thomas A. Clark and Moschatel. The space Clark gives to his work is amazing. Two or three lines to a page, or a wall – how many publishers are going to give poetry that much space? But you can see exactly why Clark, as an artist and poet, does it, and I love both the production and the poetry. I think it was of woods & water that turned me on to him. That’s a beautifully balanced book.

Closer to home, in Cornwall, we have Atlantic Press, who produce some lovely innovative pamphlets, using artists from their MA in Authorial Illustration. I went to their end of year show recently, and these are some fantastically diverse and talented artists. Both students and teachers there are excellent, and their books have a special sensitivity to the artwork and the book design, prioritising these in a way that seems unique. 

Also, in more traditional publishing, there’s Clutag Press. I was taught by Clutag’s founder Andrew McNeillie, and one week he brought in someone from Senecio printers, a specialist outfit in Oxfordshire. They had such a good working relationship and were enthusiastic for all the details that make a book read and feel great – details many readers might not consciously acknowledge. That was probably my introduction to this sort of book production. Clutag makes very elegant books.

There are so many people making amazing books though. Philip Lancaster’s Fulcrum was a luscious pamphlet with some tremendous details. Holly Corfield Carr’s Mine was a striking little production, too. And I quite like the very limited editions of extraordinary books. John Kilburn’s handmade pop-up book The Golden Plaice is weird and magical, and I was very fortunate to be allowed to flick through a copy (I think there are only 5 or so made). I love all the object books, too. ZimZalla, of course, make some playful stuff, as have Jen Bervin and Nancy Campbell. Nancy’s Disko Bay has done well, of course, but she’s also made these great object books. I think it’s in The Night Hunter, a collaboration between Nancy, Roni Gross and Peter Schell, where they’ve created a wooden box that makes the noise of a guillemot’s wings. 

Another really nice little pamphlet I should mention is Rooster, by Robert Lax, published by Stride in the 1990s. I’ve only come across Lax in the past year or two, but I’ve completely fallen for him, and this is a great, clean, simple and fun production.

There’s a lot I like.