Sunday Poem – Helen Ivory

Evening everybody.  I’ve just got back from my week at Ty Newydd – I stayed at my lovely friend Manon’s house last night.  I had a fantastic week – but it is now 11.48pm and I have twelve minutes to write this blog and get it in before midnight!  The course tutors were Ian Duhig and Ruth Padel.  I’ve been on quite a few residential courses now and Ian and Ruth were two of the hardest working tutors.  Their work rate was relentless, they were available for repeated tutorials with all of the participants.  The other thing that really impressed me on the course was how they sat in on each other’s workshops.  It was obvious that they were really interested in what the other one had to say and were learning from each other, which I think is an excellent example of how learning from other poets doesn’t stop even when you’ve published dozens of books!  I met lots of lovely poets on the course as well – some really talented writers – Tom who was cooking in the kitchen was great – I ate stuffed marrow, chickpeas, porridge and various other concoctions that I hadn’t eaten before so was quite proud of myself.  And more excitingly I wrote some poems!  I’ve got eight rough first drafts – whether they will all survive as poems is anybody’s guess but here’s hoping.  I’m very relieved as I was beginning to wonder if I was going to ever write another poem again!  But I think they have all been bottled  up and waiting for me to have some time to write.  As well as my eight first drafts I also managed to almost finish my play for the show on September 7th – the deadline is now imminent and as soon as I’ve finished writing this I’m going to rewrite the ending and send it through to the director so he has it ready to give to the actors on Monday…and rehearsals start the following Monday!  Which is very exciting.

I’m also playing trumpet in this show – it’s going to be apparently a call and response thing with a norwegian of my very talented pupils is going to play the other part…

So this is a very short blog post compared to normal – but I’ve had a wonderful week.  Today’s poem is very short, but beautifully formed.  I heard Helen Ivory read a couple of weeks ago at Grasmere and I bought her new collection ‘Waiting for Bluebeard’.  Helen Ivory has had four collections published with Bloodaxe Books and her own website can be found at

She also edits the online magazine Ink, Sweat and Tears

I really enjoyed the book and particularly the way it is structured.  The poem I’ve chosen comes from a sequence of poems in which Helen gives a voice to inanimate objects.  Again, this has been done a lot in poetry – but I love the way that Helen has brought a fresh take to this subject, largely created by the scaffolding that she has put around the poems with the titles.  The sequence of poems are spaced out throughout the first section of the book.  So there is

What the Moon Said
What the Dark Said
What the Stars Said
What the Cat Said
What the Sea Said
What the Snow Said
What the Bed Said
What the House Said
What the Earth Said

Now if that list of titles doesn’t make you want to go and buy the book….

I’ve asked Helen if I could have the first of these poems ‘What the Moon Said’.  I like how Helen has woven our different concepts of the moon into this poem, from the nursery rhyme of the cow jumping over the moon to space travel.  But the thing that really makes me love the poem is the last image in the final stanza.  If you would like to order ‘Waiting for Bluebeard’ you can get it from

I hope you enjoy the poem


What the Moon Said – Helen Ivory

If you send me your jumping cows,
your space rockets
peopled by monkeys and dogs,
I will flatter you with my light.

And if you compose tunes,
I will choreograph
the bodies of the sky
for your delectation.

Cut open your church roof
let me drink milk
from a bowl on your floor.

5 comments on “Sunday Poem – Helen Ivory

  1. Good to have you back, Kim…..full of new poems, and manuscripts and porridge (pinhead oats, I hope). Thanks for this week’s poem. It’s yet another of those which tells me that less is very often more. It’s so sure that it says just what it wants. I think it’s cunning, and disingenuous and artless. The first stanza has the feel of something that could have come out of a Sandy Brownjohn poetry game; the second one should warn you that something less playful is going on; if you don’t heed the warning, then you’re completely mugged by the rich resonant eerie density of that last stanza. That last image is just so clear and simple.Judo poetry.

    1. Thanks John! Sorry only just seen this reply. But just wanted to let you know that your observation about ‘judo poetry’ has been shared on facebook by an admirer of Helens! I’ve just brought a book written by Sandy Brownjohn as well!

  2. Clever, clever poem. Delightful with a major punch in the last verse. “Delectation” is a new word to me and it suits perfectly. Connotes many wonderful things to me – including “listen up humans!” and also an image of the “tongue” licking milk.

    1. Yes, it is very clever! I would have loved to have posted up the whole sequence – they are very enjoyable, satisfying poems – you think you know where you are with the poem, you know what the conceit of it is, and then she surprises you again!

Leave a Reply

Discover more from Kim Moore Poet

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue Reading

Skip to content