Helena Nelson

Helena Nelson
Photograph of Helena Nelson by Peter Everard Smith
Helena Nelson © Peter Everard Smith



Helena Nelson was born in Cheshire, and now lives in Fife. She is a poet and publisher, the founder editor of HappenStance Press. 

Full Biography

Helena Nelson set up HappenStance Press in 2005 as an independent small press, specialising in publishing poetry in pamphlet form; in 2010 it won the Michael Marks Award for Poetry Pamphlets. The press publishes largely first-time collections by poets from the UK. In her editorial blog Helena Nelson often takes a refreshing look at the processes of poetry writing, publishing and reviewing, and she has documented the history of her small press in a series of booklets: The HappenStance Story. An associated activity is sphinxreview.co.uk, a site dedicated to promoting and reviewing poetry pamphlet publishing. She also reviews for a wide range of poetry magazines, includingThe Dark Horse and Poetry Review.

Helena Nelson's pamphlets and book-length collections include Starlight on Water (Rialto Press, 2003), a joint winner of the Jerwood Aldeburgh Prize. She writes both serious and light verse: Unsuitable Poems (2005), The Unread Squirrel (2009) and Down With Poetry! (2016) represent her humorous and satirical side. In 2016, she published a HappenStance best seller: How (Not) to Get Your Poetry Published, a book that collects the insights and useful ideas she has gathered over the last twelve years in poetry publishing.

Further Reading

Selected Bibliography

Mr and Mrs Philpott on Holiday at Auchterawe, and other poems (Kingskettle: Kettillonia, 2001)

Starlight on Water (Rialto Press, 2003) 

Unsuitable Poems (Glenrothes: Happenstance, 2005)

The Unread Squirrel: more unsuitable poems (Glenrothes: HappenStance, 2009)

Plot and Counter-Plot (Nottingham: Shoestring, 2010)

Down With Poetry!, HappenStance (2016)