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Here's Looking at You Kid

by Helen Burke

‘Stories make up 98% of my body – the other 2% is chocolate mixed with hope.’

Helen Burke is a poet constantly on tour, and at each stop she makes time to take requests from the audience, for favourite poems from her vast back catalogue. These ‘requested poems’ have been brought together for Here’s Looking at You Kid, the long-awaited follow-up to Helen’s much-loved first collection The Ruby Slippers. Like its predecessor, this new book includes notes on each poem, a generous sprinkling of Helen's unique illustrations, and an introduction by the author.

Readers will at long last discover the secrets of ‘hospital lingo’, find out why dogs are so especially kind, learn how to handle mothers who are at ‘that difficult age between 81 and 81-and-a-half’, and the lurid details of ‘what they found in the poet’s stomach’. These are poems selected by the public, and tested on audiences all over the world. Each one is someone’s favourite – but which will be yours?

“These are 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

“These 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 in 1953. She started writing poetry in 1969, and 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, Dream Catcher, as well as in innumerable anthologies and pamphlets.

Her full-length collections of poetry are The Ruby Slippers (2011), and Here's Looking at You Kid (2014), both published by Valley Press. July 2017 saw the release of Today the Birds Will Sing, a definitive 'collected' edition including all the poetry Helen published in the past fifty years.

Helen passed away at her home in York on the 20th April 2019. You can read Valley Press publisher Jamie McGarry's tribute to her here.


Edition: Paperback

Date Published: 2014-10-17

ISBN: 9781908853424

Catalogue Number: VP0057

Number of Pages: 64

Cover design by Jamie McGarry

Cover illustration by Helen Burke

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