Helen Mort

Yorkshire-born, Derbyshire-bred poet, runner and amateur rock climber

Born in Sheffield, England. Based in Chesterfield/Sheffield, England, UK

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Helen Mort was born in Sheffield in 1985. Her first collection Division Street (Chatto & Windus, 2013) was shortlisted for the Costa Prize & the T.S. Eliot Prize and won the Fenton Aldeburgh Prize.

Her second collection No Map Could Show Them (Chatto & Windus, 2016) is a Poetry Book Society Recommendation.

Helen also writes fiction, and has edited an anthology of poetry for children and a guide to trail running in the Lake District (Vertebrate, 2016).

She currently teaches creative writing at Manchester Metropolitan University. 

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Lake District Trail Running, 2016, Vertebrate Press

No Map Could Show Them, 2016, Chatto & Windus

Editor, The Owl and the Pussycat: an anthology of poems that every child should read, 2014, Buster Books

Division Street, 2013, Chatto & Windus

Extract: Beauty

     ‘… is nothing but the beginning of terror’ – Rilke

When Beauty stumbled down my road, tapped at my door
I saw her from the lounge and hid – her eyes were raw
from smoke, her cheeks like dough from where she’d wept
and worse, I didn’t like the company she kept:
a red-faced drunk who towed a dachshund on a string.
Her mouth was slack. She never said a thing,
just stood and waited, dropped ash in my rose bed,
though as they walked away, she slowly turned her head.
For all she had a face made delicate by rain,
I told myself I’d never think of her again.

Besides, I spent the next year drinking in The Crown.
One Saturday, I rose to leave as they sat down.
She wore a hat. Her eyes were brighter than before,
(although I didn’t doubt that it was her I saw,
the stale light slung across her shoulders like a shawl,
her silhouette drawn sharp against the wall)
and though I grabbed my coat, I stood and stalled.
I knew I had to ask what she was called.
At last she spoke. I felt my hair rise all the same:~
it’s not the face we shrink from but the name.

Extract: Division Street

You brought me here to break it off
one muggy Tuesday. A brewing storm,
the pigeons sleek with rain.
My black umbrella flexed its wings.
Damp-skinned, I made for the crush
of bars, where couples slip white pills
from tongue to tongue, light as drizzle,
your fingers through my hair,
the way you nearly sneaked
a little something in my blood.

At the clinic, they asked if I’d tattoos.
I thought about the parlour
with its jaundiced walls, the knit-knit whine
of needle dotting bone, and, for a moment,
almost wished you’d left your mark;
subtle as the star I cover with t-shirts,
the memory of rain, or your head-down walk
along Division Street, slower each week, pausing
by the pubs, their windows so dim you see
nothing but your own reflection.