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Helen Tookey

Helen Tookey was born near Leicester in 1969 and studied Philosophy and English Literature. In the early part of her career, she worked as a production editor and production manager for a number of presses, including Liverpool University Press. She first met Michael Schmidt in the early 2000s whilst working for the Reader, a literature outreach organisation, and shortly afterwards began working as a freelance proof-reader for Carcanet. Her involvement with the press developed until in 2011 she became the Managing Editor, a position she held until 2014. Helen Tookey’s poems were first published in magazines such as the Stand and PN Review before her debut collection, Missel-Child, was published by Carcanet in 2014. Missel-Child was short-listed for the Seamus Heaney First Collection Prize in 2015. Her pamphlet In the Glasshouse was published by HappenStance Press in 2016. Her second Carcanet collection, City of Departures, was published in July 2019 and was shortlisted for the 2019 Forward Prize. She has also collaborated with musicians and sound artists, publishing a CD/booklet with the musician Sharron Kraus in 2016, If You Put your Hand Out (Wounded Wolf Press 2016). She has also recorded tracks with sound artist Martin Heslop for a ‘Translation as Collaboration’ event for an AHRC-funded project ( As well as poetry, Helen Tookey has also published critical work on twentieth-century writers including Anaïs Nin and Malcolm Lowry. Since 2015, Helen Tookey has also taught creative writing at Liverpool John Moores University.

Interview 27 March 2019