Poetry Pamphlet Reviews & Features

Run by HappenStance Press

A Midsummer Night's Press, 2007 - £3.50

Once upon a time, in the land of the free, back in 1991, Lawrence Schimel founded A Midsummer Night’s Press. Time passed and in 2007 the press woke from a few years of slumber and began publishing pamphlets in three imprints. Fabula Rasa is the imprint devoted to works inspired by mythology, folklore and fairytales. The first title published is Fairy Tales for Writers by Lawrence Schimel, in which the poem ‘Juniper Tree’ begins:

 

Many are the crimes

some people are willing to commit

for the chance to be published:

murder, blackmail, plagiarism…

 

But Fairy Tales for Writers is certainly not a crime. It a lovely, glossy, pocket-sized pamphlet containing thirteen (unlucky for some) poems about being a writer. Each is inspired by a fable or fairytale such as Rapunzel or Sleeping Beauty and contains truths all writers will recognise, as in ‘The Princess and the Pea’:

 

The writing life is full of tests of authenticity,

like variations on a theme, a repeated refrain

of having to prove oneself time and again…

 

There are truths for non-writers as well. In the poem ‘Ugly Duckling, for example:

 

Not only paupers dream of having

been born in the wrong family, of one day

finding themselves restored to the royal

palace…’

 

But as I continued to read, a breeze whispered from the reeds, not that King Midas has asses’ ears but that all the tales seemed to have the same narrative voice, same line length, same cadence. I read again and “the breeze kept whispering”.

 

I also found that, as is the nature of fairy tales, the plots were predictable and this, combined with predictability of form, stole much of the savour. But don’t take my word, read this pamphlet for yourself. After all, as the author says in ‘Rampion’:

 

The hero, the witch—sometimes it all depends

on who is telling the story.

 

Sue Butler