The recipient of our eight week residency, the 11th for the year – Helen is a poet and essayist from the Kapiti Coast, Wellington. Her debut collection of poetry Graft was published in May 2012 by Te Herenga Waka University Press (VUP/THWUP) to critical acclaim. Graft won the NZSA Jessie Mackay Best First Book for Poetry award in 2013 and was the first book of fiction or poetry to be shortlisted for the Royal Society of NZ Science Book Prize, also in 2013. Her poems, essays, articles and reviews have appeared in a range of Australasian journals and magazines. Helen holds a PhD in Creative Writing from Victoria University. Her thesis explored how contemporary poetry can actively participate in the interpretation of scientific or philosophical ideas – allowing public engagement with cultural dialogues. Her most recent collection of poems, about the intersection between people and technology, is Are Friends Electric? (VUP 2018).
Helen is writing a memoir which draws on diaries, memory, imagination and research. It draws on letters and notes taken from conversations. It draws on artefacts left behind by their owners. It draws on a life of reading and interacting with texts – texts that are not just paper-based, but in textiles, pottery, and geology.
While at the residency, Helen will be specifically writing about her 3x Great Aunt, Mary Frances Heaton, and the embroidered samplers she created after being wrongly committed to a lunatic asylum. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Frances_Heaton.