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Helen Shay

Updated: Thu, 3 Dec 2009 09:14 pm

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Helen Shay has performed her poetry from Glastonbury Festival Poet’s Tent to Edinburgh Fringe. She has a joint collection 'Binary Star' with Irish-American poet, Bee Smith, which won an Il Convivio International Academy competion award. Helen also writes drama and is tutoring a course on 'Writing and Creating Drama' at University of York for 6 Monday evenings from 25 Jan 2010 7-9pm (£36/concessions). To enrol, call Centre for Lifelong Learning 01904 328473. Helen has an MA in Creative Writing (Distinction awarded) taken at Manchester Metropolitan University, tutor Michael Schmidt of Carcanet Press. Drawing on her background as a lawyer (yes, there's a conversation stopper!) Helen has also written a 'Writers’ Guide to Copyright, Contract and Law' now in its 4th edition (How To Books Ltd, Oxford ISBN 978-1-84528-321-6). Helen is on the Authors North committee of the Society of Authors, and a member of Society of Women Writers and Journalists and Script Yorkshire. She is based in North Yorkshire. More details on


MAKING HOT CHOCOLATE FOR WENDY COPE (with apologies to Kingsley Amis’ cocoa) I bet it would be Cadbury's 'Highlights' or a mint-flavoured 'Options' instead, just to keep up with the Bridget Joneses. `Less than 40 cals', the sachet said. Cocoa or not, I'd make it good enough For you and your lover, all the same - smooth with bubbles on the top. ‘A Horlicks by any other name ....?’ We'd slurp and talk about poetry, sex, Christmas and the single life. (Only I'm married - call it single in parallel. Besides I'm not much of a wife.) You'd teach me things, with froth-choc lips. (Yes, for a start, like how to rhyme.) And how to fall in love, crossing bridges instead of jumping off all the time. And how to plead for copyright without the legalese, I generate. How to suck eggs like a grandmother - and how to be a woman and create which, inverted, was a favourite saying of my grandmother. "Now don't you create!" mill-house Leeds, meaning, ‘Don't show emotion’ or depart the seen-and-not-heard state. It was served to little girls on Sundays along with mash and mutton on a plate. But we're big girls now (even if dribbling hot chocolate), future grannies who’ll nag our girls,‘Create,Create!’ LETTING-GO She doesn’t cling anymore. That sweaty, grimy, too-young-to-have-a-wrist fist, that clenched its red need - staining into my arm – has loosened. Instead, a cooler hand touches mine. Still the dirt of play beneath those nails, but they ae painted each a different colour, by fingers, eager to experiment with bottles and jars. (MY bottles and jars). Soon that hand will let go. She’ll have her own varnish, and shall silver each full-grown nail with brush strokes, sluicing with sparkle. Then she’ll fleck her fingers out to dry - like a wave goodbye.

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Helen Shay

Thu 3rd Dec 2009 21:12

Thank you so much for these encouraging comments. I love this website and met Julian last night at a poetry event. Long may it continue!

Pete Crompton

Sat 19th Apr 2008 14:42

I enjoyed your two poems.I like the line about jumping off the bridges.

Also I really enjoy the sentiment of 'letting go' very clever the way you use the painted nails / paint pots idea to show the progression and ageing and the growing up.

the nails that wave goodbye, with the armour of the red gloss....but would they one day come back with tales to there ever a true goodbye.?

great work
Look forward to more.

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Tomás Ó Cárthaigh

Fri 4th Apr 2008 19:57

"Making Hot Chololate" is a great peom: it tells a story and it rhymes. The only place it falls is where is uses the same words to make the rhymes each time, but is forgivable due to the beauty of the poem and the poems message of how you'll encourage your grandchildren to create as in write, and create as in dont be afraid to show emotion.

Thumbs up all round.

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