Helen Ivory’s ‘Office Block’

Helen Ivory won an Eric Gregory Award in 1999.  Her second Bloodaxe collection, The Dog in the Sky, was published in 2006.  She is an editor for the Poetry Archive, a judge for the PBS Pamphlet choice and teaches creative writing at UEA, at Norwich University College of the Arts and for the Arvon Foundation.

Office Block
Helen Ivory
The palace of windows is burning tonight
and the city is the colour of amber.
Firemen scale the impossible walls
to rescue rats and spiders.
The staircase that curls like a shell
makes a fine spectacle
as if this were the flaming stairway
to all hell itself.
To the very hell that turns glass
into piles of sand that must be swept
and swept again, and still again
forever through windy corridors.
Order The Dog in the Sky (Bloodaxe, 2006) here.

2 thoughts on “Helen Ivory’s ‘Office Block’

  1. Michelle Post author

    For me, the first two lines are particularly striking:

    “The palace of windows is burning tonight
    and the city is the colour of amber.”

    One of the things I admire about Helen’s work is how she manages to create a mood, paint a scene, in a few lines.

  2. johemmant

    Yes, that’s a very powerful opening and amber is just the right choice. Another one to look up. Interesting that she teaches at Arvon, that’s where I went.

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