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.