Helen Lawrenson

We feature work by poet Helen Lawrenson to mark National Poetry Day 2012.

Cover of 'Upon a good high hill'
'Upon a good high hill'.

Helen Lawrenson now lives in Fife, but was born in Cheshire to a Dundee father and Wiltshire mother.

After Manchester University she moved to Dundee, and has lived in the area ever since. She is married to a Geordie and has four children and two step-children.

Helen has won the Northern Arts Prize and the Fife Libraries Prize, and has been shortlisted and highly commended in several other competitions. She has published in magazines including 'Iota' and 'Lallans'. Since retiring from teaching full-time she has taught creative writing in schools and to mental health patients, and was writer-in-residence at Kilchuimen Academy.

You can listen to Helen reading some of her other poetry in this video from the Soutar Writers Open Mic Night 2011.

The following two poems are taken from 'Upon a good high hill', published by Perjink Press. 'Upon a good high hill' brings together poems Helen has written during a lifetime spent visiting Hadrian's Wall. The poems evoke the landscape of the area, and re-imagine the human drama of daily life during the Roman occupation.


The Builder
(at Uxellodunum)

camped in a foreign land,
set out the little pack
of special things:
the model cat his brother made,
the wooden needle-case,
the amber ring
which suddenly brought back
his mother's face;
his whetstone, and at last
his father's gaming-piece,
the one he'd always liked to hold …
its smoothness in his hand,
small and round and cold.

A little piece of glass —
blue glass, from home.



Coventina's Well

what do we know
of you, or your people?

How they honoured you
at the stone
rim of the well
all their posting through,
in seasons long ago:
casting coins into your spring
under the high ripple
of curlew in the sun —
nodding as tawny bracken stirred
by the cistern sides –
or breaking February's ice
with scabbard, rather than
offensive sword, to make
some votive offering
to the spirit of the place!

Hear the bridle shake
as the Prefect rides
once more, and spurs
out to the hawk-flown
distance of the fell.


National Poetry Day 2012


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