About Helen Mort
Helen Mort was born in Sheffield, grew in Derbyshire, and studied Social and Political Sciences at Christ’s College, Cambridge. She has published two pamphlets with tall-lighthouse press, the shape of every box and a pint for the ghost (a Poetry Book Society Choice for Spring 2010). Five times winner of the Foyle Young Poets award, she received an Eric Gregory Award from The Society of Authors in 2007, and won the Manchester Young Writer Prize in 2008. In 2010, she became the youngest ever poet in residence at The Wordsworth Trust, Grasmere. Her first full collection, Division Street, was published by Chatto & Windus in 2013, and shortlisted for both the TS Eliot Prize and the Costa Prize. She is studying for a PhD at The University of Sheffield and writes a blog, Poetry on the Brain, about her research into the connections between contemporary poetry and neuroscience. In October 2013, she was appointed as the 5th Derbyshire Poet Laureate.
Mort has said that landscape is an important presence in her writing, and many of her poems were composed while walking or running in the Cumbrian fells. This may account for the metrical steadiness of much of her work: a basis for the sophisticated play and patterning of sound, which honours a lyric tradition perhaps most familiar from 20th Century Northern Irish and Scottish poetry. The evocative potential of sound appears to be a guiding concern for Mort’s writing process, resulting in tightly structured, memorable lines whose musicality and precision remain rare among poets of her generation. Throughout her highly praised first collection, this technical mastery gives an illuminating power to subjects including the miners’ strikes of the 1980s, which form a disruptive backdrop to accounts of adolescence and young adulthood; a self in composition is recognisable in these poems’ sense of hesitancy and unsure boundaries. But it is Mort’s imagistic leaps that are perhaps the most consistently impressive aspect of her work, her assured handling of how an image can quickly reorganise our everyday perceptions: ‘there are deer in the woods I’ll never see.’ For their clarity, their awareness of the past as a sustaining influence on the present, and their skill in listening and careful observation, her poems continue to gather an appreciative audience.
Helen Mort’s favourite poetry sayings:
This recording was made for The Poetry Archive on 19 November 2013 at The Soundhouse and was produced by Anne Rosenfeld.
Poems by Helen Mort
Featured in the Archive
Books by Helen Mort
Foyle Young PoetPrize website
Eric Gregory Award from The Society of AuthorsPrize website
Manchester Young Writer PrizePrize website
Poetry Book Society Choice for Spring 2010 for a pint for the ghostPrize website
Eric Gregory Award from The Society of Authors
Poet in Residence at the Wordsworth TrustPrize website
5th Derbyshire Poet Laureate.Prize website
T S Eliot (shorlisted) for Division StreetPrize website
Costa Coffee Award (shortlisted) for Division StreetPrize website
Fenton Aldeburgh Prize for Best First CollectionPrize website
Mxlexia PrizePrize website
Northern Writers' AwardPrize website