Over the years they’ve climbed
to the very lip of the sash,
her fingerprints.
And where she’s knelt, bowing
upwards, a golden reed
the marks have scattered
a constellation of effort;
the hours, days, weeks,
of learning how to grow.
She loops her fingers
around my thumb,
and my heart unlocks. You see,
it’s that she’s touching
me, and whenever someone
touches me (especially
her) I want to cry.
I want to tell her
I love her. But instead
I say, mommy’s sad
. She slips
from the bed
to the floor, walks
to her little stool:
opens the window.

by Helen Calcutt

This week’s poet, Helen Calcutt, will be launching her new pamphlet online with Verve Poetry Press on Tuesday 20 October from 7.30-8.45pm and you can join her! She’ll be reading alongside Carrie Etter, Louise Fazackerley and Shazea Quraishi, who have also recently published pamphlets with Verve. Sign up for the launch here.

‘Wonderful’ is copyright © Helen Calcutt, 2020. It is reprinted from Somehow (Verve Poetry Press, 2020) by permission of Verve Poetry Press. You can read more about the pamphlet here.

Notes from Verve Poetry Press:

In September 2017, Helen Calcutt’s brother Matthew took his own life. He was 40 years old. ‘… the phone rang / and when I answered it / you’d killed / yourself, and that was the start / of you being dead.’ This is the starting point of an astonishing new pamphlet of poems by Helen Calcutt. At times harrowing; at others hopeful – always deeply felt and beautifully realised. These poems display the poise and precision of a poet already at the height of her powers, writing the un-writable, weaving the terrible into something relatable and filled with the light of understanding. How do we survive the tumultuous presence of grief? How does the trauma of losing a loved one to suicide affect, our identity, our creativity, and our ability to love? How – in a world shattered by incomparable change and severe loss – do we build a life from the wreckage? Because we do. Somehow, we do. You can read more about the pamphlet and buy a copy on the Verve website.

Helen Calcutt’s poetry and critical writing has appeared in the Guardian, the Huffington Post, the Brooklyn ReviewUnboundPoetry ScotlandWild CourtEnvoiThe London Magazine and others. Her debut pamphlet, Sudden Rainfall (Perdika, 2014) was a PBS Choice. Her debut collection, Unable Mother, was published by V.Press in 2018. She is the editor and creator of the anthology Eighty-Four (Verve Poetry Press, 2019) which was a Sabotage Best Anthology shortlisted title, and a Poetry Wales Book of the Year, and raised money for CALM’s prevent male suicide campaign. You can follow Helen on Twitter and find out more about her work on her website.

Verve Poetry Press is a Birmingham-based publisher dedicated to promoting and showcasing Birmingham and Midlands poetic talent in colourful and exciting ways – as you would expect from a press that has grown out of the giddy and flamboyant, annual four days of poetry and spoken word that is Verve Poetry Festival, Birmingham. Added to this is a colourful pamphlet series featuring poets who have previously performed at our sister festival – Helen’s pamphlet is the latest addition to this prize-winning series – and a debut performance poetry series, which had seen us working with the brightest rising stars on the UK spoken word scene. We also assert our right to publish any poetry we feel needs and deserves to find print wherever we find it. Verve was awarded the Saboteur Award for Most Innovative Publisher in 2019 and the Michael Marks Publisher’s Award 2019. Find out more about Verve Poetry Press on the publisher’s website and follow the press on Twitter and Instagram.

Copyright information: please note that the copyrights of all the poems displayed on the website and sent out on the mailing list are held by the respective authors, translators or estates, and no work should be reproduced without first gaining permission from the individual publishers.