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You’ve never seen a soul playing football. You never read about it. You are unaware of its rules, or even of the fact that it’s a team game. Yet, intent upon a professional career, you travel to Old Trafford, White Hart Lane, or some such, and wait at the front door ready to impress the manager with your skills…

Many of those who would see their poetry in print test the relatively saintly patience of their would-be publishers and it’s worth asking yourself for a moment why anyone would take the trouble to publish poetry: imagine the pestering, the pleading, the mad, and the downright rude emails; imagine the stress of the financial risks; the challenge of being distributed; of being reviewed. I often think of setting up as a publisher of poetry – Poor Rude Press – but it won’t be for money. What’s stopping me at the moment is the certain knowledge that it will steal the food from my children’s mouths. One day though…

If you write poetry and want to see it in print then, God’s sake, bag yourself a copy of Helena Nelson’s book, How (Not) to Get your Poetry Published. Helena’s the one woman whirlwind behind HappenStance and, as such, she’s seen it all. There’s a disarming, self-effacing quality to this book. Helena’s had two collections published and has ‘made all the painful mistakes a person can make […] Here’s a confession. Twenty-five years ago I put a series of poems together and sent them to Faber & Faber, whose address I had found in the Writers’ & Artists’ Year Book. I had no idea of the poetry editor’s name. I probably wrote ‘Dear Sir/Madam’. Oh dear’. So, Helena’s on your side. Hers is a voice of wisdom, experience and, yes, of opinion – but motivated purely by a desire to help poets and poetry.

It’s all here: the hows and the whys of submissions to publishers, to magazines, online, self-publishing, social networks, blogs and poetry readings. If you’re just starting out, I can think of few better guides than Helena Nelson. Check out the HappenStance blog to experience the welcoming qualities of her prose.

(Can someone get this woman an OBE for her services to UK poetry??)

Buy How (Not) to Get Your Poetry Published here