Since the mid-1980s, Helen Burke’s poems have appeared in pamphlets, on greetings cards, on pieces of origami, on radio, on tape, on CD, on the side of stray dogs and in a million other places – including, more recently, two collections from Valley Press.
After months of work tracking down all these literary gems, we’re proud to announce the forthcoming publication of Today the Birds Will Sing; which abandons the ‘slim volume’ approach, instead offering a comprehensive, exhaustive treasury of Helen’s work, spanning more than 250 pages in a beautiful (and very red) hardback edition. Besides the poems, it is also filled with Helen’s truly unique illustrations, and reams of notes explaining where all these poems came from.
We feel it’s no overstatement to say this is the one book that everyone should own; an unprecedented and unexpected treat that should entertain Helen’s fans, new and old, for the next few centuries at least.
‘Helen falls up to the moon, turns the world upside down. Her dreams have no edges. She can conjure up a “lovely glorious carefree hope-filled now” … her memories of childhood, her love of family and people dance in the rhythm of her poetry. She is without guile, witty, truthful, visionary and incisive. She lifts up my spirits, takes me on a star-spattered journey.’
— Norah Hanson
‘… poems to read out loud for their wit, character and dialogue. They capture the sound of a voice, the essence of a person, with sad notes to sweeten the humour.’
— Gillian Clarke
‘[Helen’s] poems sprawl all over you with the energy of a teething Labrador pup ... They are made with a hopeless love for humanity and a knowing compassion for our failings. They are of the Planet Lingo, the Planet Burke, unique, determined and inimitable.’
— Paula Meehan
‘Burke writes wittily and sensitively, with insight, and not a jot of sentimentality.’
— Mike Jenkins
‘Life-affirming ... This is poetry as alchemy.’
— Bill Kirton
Helen Burke was born in Doncaster, 1953, and started writing poetry in the 1970s. Since then she has amassed an impressive record of competition victories, including the Manchester International, the Suffolk Poetry Prize, and the Ilkley Literature Performance Poetry Prize (twice). Her work has been published in Rialto, New Welsh Review, Northwords, Dreamcatcher, as well as in numerous anthologies and pamphlets.
Her full-length collections of poetry are The Ruby Slippers, first published in 2011, and Here's Looking at You Kid, in 2014, both published by Valley Press. February 2017 will see the release of Today the Birds Will Sing, a definitive 'collected' edition including all the poetry Helen has published since 1969.
Date Published: 2017-03-31
Catalogue Number: VP0086
Number of Pages: 256
Cover design by Jamie McGarry
Cover illustration by Helen Burke
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