Word, words, words. This edition of the Weekend Name Drop features a writer who surrounds herself with her own and others, carefully selecting the best and putting them in the best order. Meet Helen Rickerby.
Name: Helen Rickerby
Creative fields: Poet, Editor, Publisher, Festival Organiser
Location: Wellington, New Zealand
My connection: I met Helen early this year when she and fellow poet, Anna Jackson, visited Taumarunui in preparation for the Ruapehu Writers Festival. The pair co-organised the festival and we discussed ways in which Taumarunui could be involved. I later caught up with Helen in Ohakune, listening to her highly informative session with fellow editors, Fergus Barrowman, Harriet Allen, and Anna Hodge. We’ve since maintained contact on Facebook and I’ve enjoyed following her activity with Seraph Press.
Inspiration for this writer: I am still grateful for the way in which Helen and Anna included me in the Ruapehu Festival, kindly making me feel I was a significant part of the events. Going beyond concern for her own writing, Helen acts as an advocate for other writers and is recognised for selecting original and unique voices for Seraph Press collections. I am beginning to read her own work, much of which is found online, and am appreciating her own voice which I find direct and playful. Tim Jones, who has featured in The Weekend Name Drop, has interviewed Helen following the release of her collection, My Iron Spine, and I appreciate her comments about balancing her own creative work with blogging and working for other writers. (Incidentally, Tim has recently interviewed me as well).
Why you should check her out and share with others: First of all, it’s easy to check out some of Helen’s work as she has several poems published online. You can see a sample below, but also on literary journals such as Trout and Snorkel, as well as on the blog, Tuesday Poem.
Reviewing her collection, Cinema, for Landfall, Tim Jones cites Helen as “one of my favourite New Zealand poets.” On her integral blog, nzpoetryshelf.com, Paula Green writes, “I love the way Helen’s collection pulls you into a poetic mis-en-abyme—into layers and levels of translucence, symbols, self exposure, tangible details, ephemeral details and above all a contagious love of film. Not that it’s a terrifying vortex! It is just deliciously complex.” Check her out.
Sample of work:
Many thanks to Helen for allowing me to publish this poem here. It is from her 2014 collection, Cinema.
Anna’s life, as directed by Michael Winterbottom
I keep accidentally walking up the wrong stairs
and finding myself in a Palestinian story
about a child, and a mother
and, oh, there is a father, but he is never there
and so I keep forgetting
Up the right stairs it is even stranger:
my life as it was when I had a life –
before I had this life, I mean, when it was
all drinking and parties and passionate fighting
I watch for a while with nostalgia, but
just because it makes a good story, doesn’t mean
you want to live it
Behind the next door, in a post-modern
meta-post-meta comedy, I am the Ice Cream Girl
and each morning I reattach my platinum-blonde beehive
with a twist at the crown
I apply thick black eyelashes
wear my highest heels
and totter my way through the day
By the end, I’ve melted
but the Ice Cream Man scoops me up
safe in a reflective curve
And this is myself, playing myself playing myself
and this, I think, is a farmyard
There are dirt paths and chickens running everywhere
Someone is being born, and someone is dying
inevitably, there’s blood everywhere
and I decide I will never eat pork again, or drink
red wine, but oh, no, I take it back about the wine
Here’s Helen, herself, setting her poem, Calling You Home, to video:
The Weekend Name Drop is a weekly feature on this blog, promoting people I have encountered who are doing creative things.