High Peak Community Arts are delighted to welcome their newest Ambassador – the renowned Derbyshire poet (and ex-Derbyshire Poet Laureate) – Helen Mort.
Helen is a five-times winner of the Foyle Young Poets award, received an Eric Gregory Award from The Society of Authors in 2007, and won the Manchester Poetry Prize Young Writer Prize in 2008. Described by The Telegraph as “the rising star of British poetry”, Helen is currently a guest lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University.
Lauded by Carol Ann Duffy as “among the brightest stars in the sparkling constellation of young British poets,” Helen was born in Sheffield in 1985 and brought up in Chesterfield. A child of the miners’ strikes, Helen grew up with a state education and a father who read her Wilfred Owen. Helen was the first in her family, and her school, to go to Oxbridge. She read Social and Political Sciences at Cambridge.
The landscapes of Sheffield, Oldham and the Peak District are anchoring points in Mort’s poems. She writes about the houses, chip shops and streets of her childhood, as well as the mystical hills and moors she grew up in. Helen is still a prolific runner and walker, and credits the landscape of the Peak District as her inspiration for many of her current works.
There is a wildness and a freedom in much of her poetry. “I feel truly alive when I’m outdoors, when I’m climbing or running,” she says. “When you get moments in running where everything’s going well, there’s a kind of clarity to it. Climbing’s the same – or perhaps even more amplified. I like to think of climbs as a set of instructions for the body that you have to interpret, and they only make sense when you do it. So a climb can’t be paraphrased, it can only be done. And there’s an affinity with poetry because a poem’s a bit like a set of instructions to the reader. You can’t paraphrase a poem. You can only write it or read it.”
Of her new role as Ambassador for High Peak Community Arts, Helen states:
“As a Derbyshire writer inspired by the county’s varied landscape and rich heritage, I admire and value the work charities like High Peak Arts do to make people aware of how art and place intersect and to support local artists. The High Peak is a rare, unique part of the world and it will always be at the heart of my poetry. We need to celebrate Derbyshire’s artistic life however we can.”
‘Dear Alison’ is a poem featured in Helen Mort’s anthology No Map Could Show Them – a collection of poems centring on women making their mark and forging their own paths throughout history, both in the wilderness and in modern urban life.