Book Added Go to checkout. x

Today the Birds Will Sing

by Helen Burke

Limited edition 300-page hardback, including poetry, art and notes by the much-loved writer.

Since the late 1970s, 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 a year’s work tracking them down, typing them up, and putting them into a sensible order, we’re delighted to present Today the Birds Will Sing; a comprehensive, exhaustive treasury of Helen’s writing. Besides the poems, these 300 pages are filled with Helen’s illustrations, family photos, and reams of notes explaining where on earth all this 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 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: Hardback

Date Published: 2017-06-30

ISBN: 9781908853691

Catalogue Number: VP0086

Number of Pages: 300

Cover design by Jamie McGarry

Cover illustration by Helen Burke

Be part of our story. Join the Valley Press newsletter.