Helen Jeffery is a writer, poet, performer, and facilitator. Originally an actor, Jeffery would go on to become a teacher and playwright, having some success with The Brink and Gun Metal Blue. Jeffery’s foray into the world of poetry is more recent, and typically, she has performed at myriad events in the North-West. Jeffery is also a co-founding Director of Samwell CIC, an organisation which supports performers of all disciplines in maintaining positive mental well-being throughout their careers.
Journey (2022) is a self-published collection of poetry, written predominantly in the first person. This choice of perspective is revealing and helps to introduce readers to this new poetic voice. Of course, never assuming that the poet and the poet-speaker are one and the same is important, but having listened to Jeffery perform and announce these links has given the confidence to draw this correlation.
The poetry throughout tells a story, a personal story of struggle, shame even, ‘At ballet I danced in front of all the other girls/ oblivious to the chuckles at my wobbly thighs’ – but our poet refuses to be stuck in that early mindset. The title poem, Journey, establishes this completely, ‘I am ripping up the pages/ throwing them into the air/ casting off the shackles/ letting down my hair’.
The collection as a whole has a feel of something this writer needed to accomplish, to get off their back, something akin to what Churchill named his ‘black dog’. In Habits/Choices/Change Jeffery writes, ‘How easy they were to gather, yet difficult to discard.’ Indeed, positive personal change is difficult to effect, and this poet captures this challenge, scrupulously.
If this collection has a turn, a moment of change, a volta – it is certainly the poem, This Is What I’m Gonna Do. Going further down the road of classic literary devices, this piece is arguably a set of maxims, of rules for living a good life, some specific to the poet herself, but others that we could all benefit from following, ‘I’m not gonna give up/ I’m not gonna go down/ I’m not gonna look backwards’
To learn more about the poet, or order your own copy click here.