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The Ruby Slippers

by Helen Burke

‘I have seen the pair I want. They are red and exotic...’

Paperback currently unavailable. The full text of this book is included in Helen's Collected Poems, available here.

The Ruby Slippers
was nothing less than a poetry landmark, collecting thirty-one of the finest poems from a remarkable forty-year poetry career, in which Helen – the toast of her native Yorkshire – has won more competitions and prizes than you can shake a stick at.

This sparkling selection tells the story of her journey through poetry, from her early poems applauded by 'a very young Simon Armitage' to her recent work with the Origami Poems Project. The reader is transported through these years at a pace, with help from a selection of extremely red shoes and a fair number of animals.

The poems, uproariously funny and deeply touching (sometimes both within a single line), are complimented by a charming introduction, 'Why I Write', and extensive notes on the creation and publishing history of the poems. Any poetry lover will treasure this collection, and anyone with a soul will find much to love in this 'magnum opus' from one of Yorkshire's most valuable poets.

“Witty, vibrant, joyous, funny (her mother, though unlike every other mother, will remind you of your mother) and hyper-attentive to everything that makes us human, The Ruby Slippers is a wonderful book.”
— Thomas Lux

“A poet with verve, wit and humanity.”
— Ian McMillan


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: 2011-06-11

ISBN: 9780956890436

Catalogue Number: VP0015

Number of Pages: 78

Cover design by Jamie McGarry

Cover illustration by the author

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