Reading at Lighthouse, Poole, Nov 2021
(Image credit: Mark Simmons)
Launch event for The Mother Country, at Edinburgh's Lighthouse Books, June 19
Helen has pioneered a career as an ecopoet since becoming 'Bard of Bath', in the annual competition in 2003, and her work is now internationally acclaimed and has been supported by Arts Council England, the Society of Authors, and the Royal Literary Fund.
Nowadays based in S.W. England, after more than a dozen years living in Scotland, as well as a stint in Australia, Helen actually grew up in Bucks, S.E. England. Seer Green, her home village, transformed through her childhood in the Seventies, with fields and cherry orchards bulldozed to make way for housing estates and gated mansions, as the area became prime stockbroker belt. This early witnessing of destruction awakened Helen's sensitivity to the more-than-human world, her grief at the loss of a familar landscape, and unease at the dominant culture. Such themes regularly appear in Helen's work, alongside a passionate gratitude for life and a vison of regenerative cultures. Her lived experiences of hidden homelessness and housing precarity also inform her intersectional approach to the roots of the interconnected social and ecological crises we collectively face.
Helen has degrees in literature from Oxford and Edinburgh Universities, and is about to embark on a PhD by publication at the University of Gloucestershire. She is also an experienced Forest School leader, having led environmental education/outdoor wellbeing projects for over a decade. And whilst her ecopoetry is taught and studied in several universities worldwide, Helen loves to draw on her days working outdoors to lead Nature-inspired writing herself.
For more details, please visit her Workshops page.
And for Helen's online mentoring programme, Wild Ways to Writing, go here.
To date Helen has published three poetry collections, Hedge Fund, And Other Living Margins (Shearsman Books, 2012), ECOZOA (Permanent Publications, 2015) and The Mother Country (Awen Publications 2019), which explores legacies of the British Empire, including personal, social and ecological dispossession. Helen toured the UK with her new book over the three month period May-July 2019, giving readings in 12 different locations.
Helen is currently writing a narrative non-fiction book, an epistolary memoir addressed to a small child for when she comes of age. She is also enjoying her creative explorations of short fiction and is working towards a fourth poetry collection.
Community arts projects
In July 2016, she completed a 21 month long residency with ‘Last Tree Dreaming’, which was awarded Heritage Lottery funding to raise awareness of the heritage and future of Selwood Forest in the Somerset market town of Frome, UK.
Birdwatching with a 'Wildlife & Wellbeing' group, May 2018
Environmental education and outdoor wellbeing
Having co-founded Shared Earth Learning in 2010 – a co-operative enterprise running Forest School and outdoor wellbeing groups in Somerset – Helen co-directed the company until August 2020, co-leading groups that have supported hundreds of children, young people and adults to deepen their Nature connection, develop a range of practical skills, and improve their wellbeing.
Whilst based in NE Scotland between 2016 – 2018, Helen led a range of outdoor wellbeing programmes with Earth for Life CIC across Grampian Region. These included Forestry Commission's 'Branching Out', and programmes she co-designed in-house, such as 'Wildlife & Wellbeing', which offered participants the opportunity to engage in 'Citizen Science' by recording and reporting wildlife sightings to local conservation agencies.