I was asked to interview Sheffield based author and poet Helen Mort for the Off the Shelf festival. It is my second year working for the literary festival and was an honour to speak to an award winning writer. Helen’s latest book is called Never Leave the dog behind and is an exploration of our love of dogs and of mountains.
The event was at the Crucible in Sheffield, a world renowned theatre that I have visited all my life in the audience. So it was such a thrill to be able to be on stage. Due to the pandemic, there were only a few tickets allowed to be sold though there were many more watching online at home.
Helen’s book is a beautiful mix of poetry, personal stories and the history of the relationship between human and dog in the setting of nature. She read a section of the book talking about her first ‘dog companion’ Bell. In a room of dog lovers, you could feel the passion, joy and heartfelt reactions as we all could understand the special relationships we have with our dogs.
We had a chat about everything from the loss of a dog through to the way becoming a parent changes our interaction with adventure and nature. There were some great questions from the audience especially one asking about how Donald Trump is the first American president in over 100 years to not be a dog owner and what that said about him.
The evening ended with Helen reading a poem from her book, called The Dogs.
Some mornings, waking up between the sandy whippet
and the black – their breathing as slow as mine,
their eyes more sorrowful – I remind myself I’m not a dog.
It’s not acceptable to taste the grass or roll in moss until
I’m musked with it. There are deer in the woods I’ll never see.
My thirst discriminates. It does not have me bend
my grateful head to puddles, gutters, hollows
in the rock. I don’t track rabbits in my sleep.
I’ll not know love like theirs, observed in mute proximity
and if I sometimes sit bolt upright after dark, sensing
a movement in the yard, it’s only that I’ve learned
a little of their vigilance. I’m not like them:
one night I’ll set off past the meadow, down
behind the beck, beyond the blunt profile of Silver Howe
and nobody will call me back.Helen Mort – The Dogs
Helen’s book Never leave the dog behind is available to buy from Blackwells (along with some of her other books). You can find out more about Off the Shelf festival here.
If you would like to work with me for your event, you can use my contact page here. I have done live interviews at events, presented a Saturday morning show on BBC Radio Sheffield, taken part as a participant in radio and TV shows and done public speaking at events all over the UK and Europe. To discuss your requirements, please do get in touch.
Photography by Timm Cleasby Photography
Peace and love