Rickerby, Helen

Rickerby, Helen


Primary publisher
Mākaro Press
Rights enquiries
Helen Rickerby helen.rickerby@paradise.net.nz
Publicity enquiries

In Brief

Helen Rickerby is a writer, editor and publisher. She has had four collections of her poetry published, most recently Cinema (Mākaro Press, 2014), and her work has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including Essential New Zealand Poems: Facing the Empty Page (Godwit, 2012). Rickerby is co-founder and managing editor of literary journal JAAM, and managing editor of Seraph Press, which has become an increasingly significant publisher of high quality New Zealand poetry. She is currently working on her latest collection of poetry, provisionally titled How to Live, and is involved in organising the inaugural Ruapehu Writers Festival.


RICKERBY, Helen (1974–) was born in the Hutt Valley, and now lives in Wellington. She has a BA in English literature and art history, and a Masters in English literature from Victoria University of Wellington. Her Masters thesis focused on fairytale intertextuality in the fiction of Margaret Atwood. In 2000, she completed the Diploma of Publishing at Whitireia Polytechnic and has worked mainly as an editor, including seven years at Te Ara, the Encyclopedia of New Zealand.

Since 1995 Rickerby’s poetry has been published in literary journals, mainly in New Zealand and Australia.

Rickerby’s first collection of poetry, Abstract Internal Furniture (HeadworX, 2001), was described as “an avant-garde, indoor garden full of strange images and intriguing ideas where things turn topsy-turvy” (Harvey McQueen, New Zealand Books). Fairy tales and feminism were common themes, and the collection included a sequence of ‘Theodora’ poems – about a persona/alter ego named Theodora.

This was followed by My Iron Spine (HeadWorX, 2008), which explored the idea that things that give strength are often the same things that cage us through autobiographical poems and biographical poems about women from history. This marked the beginning of Rickerby’s strong interest in biographical poetry.

In 2010, Kilmog Press published the hand bound chapbook, Heading North, a single long poem sequence that traces a journey, both physical and emotional, up the North Island to Cape Reinga.

Rickerby’s fourth collection, Cinema, was published by Mākaro Press in 2014. It is another strongly thematic collection, with the poems being inspired by films and film-making. Poet and reviewer, Paula Green said Cinema’s “poetic effects are various, whether humorous, confessional, inventive, challenging, insightful, quirky.” Reviewer Siobhan Harvey called it “a meeting point of the cultural persuasions of our modern existences: form, exterior, paradox…” and added “all that which films are best at evoking and revivifying is found also in poetry, especially poetry as good and creative as this.”

Rickerby is currently working on her latest collection, provisionally titled How to Live.

Her poems have appeared in numerous anthologies, including Best New Zealand Poems 2014, selected by Vincent O’Sullivan; Essential New Zealand Poems: Facing the Empty Page, edited by Siobhan Harvey, Harry Ricketts and James Norcliffe (Godwit, 2014); and Dear Heart: 150 New Zealand Love Poems, edited by Paula Green (Godwit, 2012). Both her poetry and fiction were included in New Zealand Writing: The NeXt Wave, edited by Mark Pirie (Otago University Press, 1998).

Rickerby has done many guest poetry readings, often solo, in New Zealand and overseas. Recordings of her poems are in the Aotearoa New Zealand Poetry Sound Archive, housed at University of Auckland Library and the Alexander Turnbull Library.

She is also well-known as an editor and publisher. Rickerby was part of the group that founded JAAM literary magazine in 1995, and has been involved ever since, co-managing it with Clare Needham since 2005.

In 2004, she founded boutique literary publishing company, Seraph Press, which has become an increasingly significant publisher of high-quality New Zealand poetry, primarily by women poets.

Current projects include co-editing Truth or Beauty: Verse Biography in New Zealand, Canada and Australia, a volume of academic essays to be published by Victoria University Press in late 2016.

In 2014, Rickerby co-organised a conference on poetry and biography at Victoria University, with poet and academic Anna Jackson and doctoral student Angelina Sbroma, where she presented a paper on her own practice of biographical poetry, later published in Biography journal. Following the conference, the organisers edited a volume of essays on the subject: Truth and Beauty: Verse Biography in New Zealand, Canada and Australia (Victoria University Press 2016). In 2015 Rickerby and Jackson organised a symposium on poetry and history, and, with Jackson’s husband Simon Edmonds, they are organising the inaugural Ruapehu Writers Festival in 2016.


Updated January 2017.