First Pamphlet Award winner 2022
Helena Goddard’s first collection, How Bodies Are Changed, won her the Frosted Fire First Pamphlet Award in 2022, and her award includes publication of this book and 50 free copies.
How Bodies Are Changed was published in November. If you wish to order a copy, please click here.
As winner of a Frosted Fire Firsts Award, Helena will be invited to act as a judge for the 2023 competition.
Helena has won or been placed in various competitions including Buzzwords, the Fish, the Plough, and Poetry on the Lake, which she won in 2019. She has been shortlisted for the Bridport Prize on four occasions and published in anthologies, including the 2017 book inspired by Stanley Spencer’s art, and the Emma Press Anthology of Illness.
Two of Helena’s poems were submitted for the Forward Prize in 2020. She has been published in The Interpreter’s House and the Rialto. Helena Goddard lives in Gloucestershire.
Endorsements of How Bodies Are Changed
How Bodies Are Changed is an excellent title for an excellent collection. Helena Goddard’s sensuous, well-made poems explore relationships, backroads of history and geography, the natural world, social justice. Her voice is both tough and tender, sober and high-spirited. ‘Alas! Mrs Clitherow’ is a masterpiece.
Helena Goddard’s skill in selecting just the right words seems almost magical, though to say it feels effortless is to ignore the sheer hard work that must have gone into this outstanding debut pamphlet. Her poems seamlessly merge past and present, self and others, art and literature — all in the context of lived experience the reader will recognise and share.
I had to read How Bodies Are Changed several times. I found I could only revel in the language at first read, and allow it to act on me, before reading at a deeper level. Helena Goddard demonstrates a deft and original eye for connections and metaphors, as well as precise control of space and form. Her language is physical and concrete, leaving me wishing there were space here to quote the many phrases and lines that delighted me.
Angela France, lead judge of Frosted Fire First Pamphlet Awards, 2022
The title of this book is a quote from
Tales from Ovid, translated by Ted Hughes
‘Now I am ready to tell you how bodies are changed….‘
Five poems from How Bodies Are Changed
The wheatear, the English ortolan
The Eastbourne sky could hardly contain them,
so numberless and every bird so shy
it took fright at a cloud, as if its flight
had dipped under the belly of a bear
about to lie down. The wheatear would drop
to the ground, cranny itself in the mouth
of one of the tunnels cut by shepherds,
hop to the horsehair noose at the end.
Bauble bodies were threaded on crow quills,
sold by poulterers from Lewes to London,
served as gobbets wrapped in vine leaves,
bursting like buds. One day in 1665,
a shepherd trapped a hundred dozen;
divested himself of his smock, his wife
of her petticoat, to sack the tumbling balls
of fat, whose alarm call was titreu titreu,
whose song was far far, two descending
notes on my daughter’s recorder,
her raised fingers a cockerel comb
of concentration, a clamp against the holes.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder
3 a.m. and there are thousands of us awake, our lungs
an abacus of beads and strings whose gummed yellow
loyalty is not to be cast off in coughs, heaves, retches.
Next stop – steroid city: a moon-face, a wisp of air
for each nostril, a clutch of carers on minimum wage,
a moribund bed. At 3 a.m. we’re fantastical as monks,
riot around the manuscript, conjure foresters with pipes
who’ll tap us like birch trees, deliver us in runnels of pure
liquid pearl; we birth our heads through closed curtains,
apprehend the sky, read with infant, twenty-first century
eyes how oxygen, nitrogen, all the bound elements
collapse past and future to a singularity, a breathless
Aquinas silence; at 3 a.m. our chests open like sacred books
on a lectern, marginalia gold-leaved in the cortizoned
dark; we see the persistence of love, how light
bequeaths itself as measurement so we can watch
stars travel outward, every domed night a stretching
mouth’s cry, Look! I’m millions of miles further away.
Alas! Mrs Clitherow, I am sorry you are so wilful
a judge at the trial of the Blessed Margaret Clitherow, 1586
The idea of the stone
was its place under the spine
where its honed point could function
as a fulcrum, so her ribs
would tear open her prison
of flesh, unclam her lost heart.
The idea of the door
was to keep her body still,
so the rocks could be loaded
one by one, till the pressing
and the rising met in her
and the business was done.
Head and hands protruded, fixed
in a human trinity:
when her pulse was a relic
in her wrist, Catholics hewed it
free, to witness this martyr,
this saint, this mother of three
whose idea of a fourth –
she was not sure – pulled apart
like a cloud on the stone
her body blunted. Her tongue
could have saved her from peine forte
et dure but could not, could not.
Her bloodless hand spoke to me
from its glass dome in the gulp
of my first school pilgrimage:
I gripped my tube of sweets tight
in my pocket; then there was
a field, sandwiches, cricket.
From Sant’Apollinare to Burnham-on-Sea
I walked through the archway under my ribs,
looked up at the mosaics in the dome –
the ones from Ravenna, that I’ve never seen.
In my hand was the blue bucket and spade
I carried everywhere at Burnham-on-Sea,
where they spoon you green soup in the B and B,
but oh, the chew of the plastic handle.
You were there too, in my ribs with me.
The acoustics bloomed round us as I whispered
all I know about implausible things:
four wings on a bumblebee, the gentle pause
you leave when someone finishes speaking,
the apple-branch angle between your thumb
and wrist. Blossom. Your larynx. Leonids.
one 250 ml pot of Greek yoghurt or
similar – choose the thick kind, the kind
that takes a few seconds to give into gravity
when you hold it over your head
like a fez, like a crown.
move into a town and rent a flat
in the High Street, over a shoe shop
or a newsagent, or a Metro Tesco.
at any point, select a target,
wall, cloud, pavement, or person.
the sash window on the first floor.
a dessert spoon in the yoghurt,
hinge the spoon at both ends
between thumb and forefinger – so –
until both can sense the perfect
angle of catapult. Now keep faith
like David, and let the white
cream fly. Put your soul into it,
but do not watch it or try to follow it
defining a path in space and time.
and repeat and repeat every day
at 11 a.m. If you miss that hour,
you must wait until the next day,
because this is the only moment
that counts. You may find you
have to give up work.
look down to see the results,
ever. This is an act of surrender,
of dedication, of freedom
from the life-long manipulations
of consequence. This is
a labour of love. This is
an exercise in rising above.
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