In September 2017, Helen Calcutt’s brother Matthew took his own life. He was 40 years old.
‘… the phone rang / and when I answered it / you’d killed / yourself, and that was the start / of you being dead.’
This is the starting point of an astonishing new pamphlet of poems by Helen Calcutt. At times harrowing; at others hopeful – always deeply felt and beautifully realised. These poems display the poise and precision of a poet already at the height of her powers, writing the un-writable, weaving the terrible into something relatable and filled with the light of understanding.
How do we survive the tumultuous presence of grief? How does the trauma of losing a loved one to suicide affect, our identity, our creativity, and our ability to love? How – in a world shattered by incomparable change and severe loss – do we build a life from the wreckage? Because we do.
Somehow, we do.
“A highly accomplished set of poems which consider the ways grief, guilt and loss attach themselves to both the family and the natural world for restoration. What Calcutt does within these pages is acknowledge our ability to be resilient, while never dismissing the private moments we struggle and suffer to keep ourselves going. At times devastating, at other times buoyant, but always totally human.”
– Anthony Anaxagorou
If any readers find themselves affected by the issues raised here, don’t hesitate to ask for help. Here are some useful organisations for support and guidance through trauma and loss: