Helen Mort

Helen Mort: Featured Poet

After Tarkovsky

A karner butterfly,
climbing the stairwell
of late evening,

through the shadows
cast by larches, up
into the last colour

this sun can give; how
it holds the pages
of its black-edged wings,

unreadable. At night,
I take a leather book,
switch off the lamp

and open it. So dark,
I barely even see
the white. It’s then

I settle on the bed.
It’s then I read
just what I like.


Helen Mort was born in Sheffield in 1985 and grew up in nearby Chesterfield. She has published two pamphlets with tall-lighthouse press, ‘the shape of every box’ and ‘a pint for the ghost’ (a PBS Choice). Her first full collection is forthcoming from Chatto & Windus. Helen received an Eric Gregory Award in 2007 and won the Manchester Young Writer prize in 2008. From 2010-2011 she was Poet in Residence at The Wordsworth Trust, Grasmere where she published ‘Lie of the Land’, a pamphlet of poems written during her residency. She is currently working towards a PhD at Sheffield University.

5 thoughts on “Helen Mort: Featured Poet”

  1. Oh Helen!
    I LOVE this poem – I love how you work the images and thoughts together of the butterfly and the speaker! I suppose they’re metaphors for each other, maybe 🙂 A mutual mirroring. Actually a triple mirroring , because the photo of you somehow working your way up that vertical rock makes you part of the poem – especially with that blue jacket you’re wearing. I googled karner butterfly , and discovered it’s a blue North American species. Lovely.
    p.s. I have your “Lie of the Land” pamphlet. I enjoy your work.

  2. Simply magical Helen – I saw the opening of the book as synonymous with the opening of a butterfly’s wings. Thanks for a great read – it gave me a sense of calm in the middle of the Christmas hustle and bustle.

  3. Wonderful, Helen. Really glad you’re doing so well. Do you recall those 24/8 meetings before our various literary groups went off on our tours? I remember you well from then, and wish you all the best for the future. Will definitely buy your Chatto and Windus collection!

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