Book Reviews from Spriha Kant: “Breathe” by Helen Laycock

Review of Helen Laycock’s Poetry Book “Breathe”

                                                              Book Review by Spriha Kant

The sagacious poetess “Helen Laycock” needs no introduction. She has shown varied phizzogs in her writings, all influential to make the readers submerge deeply in them. 

In this book, the poetess has filled her certain set of poetries in a cell, and each cell is followed by a quote. 

The poetess in this book has expressed different feelings and has stated different circumstances through nature using personifications, metaphors, and similes. 

It is always said, “Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder.” Some poetries describing beauties of others unfurl the magnificent beauty lying in the eyes of the poetess, showing a few glimpses seen by the beautiful eyes of this poetess from one of the poetries “Dragonfly” below:

“you share
your iridescence
when you alight
on the fence,
flashing bright
your oiled magic”

“wings silver-strutted veils”
The poetess has created some poetries as frames, each inserting a picture of death, some pictures are of tragic death that can strike the hearts of sensible readers to bloody tears, one such tragic death can be seen in her poetry “Wisdom,” in one of the frames, the death in the picture is a ravenous vampire standing on the threshold, this picturization is in her poetry “Wolf.”
Quoting below a few stanzas from the poetry “Wisdom”:
              “Once white under 
                  a bright moon, 
                 ghost of dusk, 
               the love-faced barn owl, 
                   will soon be a husk, 
                its flight forever silent, 
              its round light shuttered, 

                    You fired, you goon.”
The poetess is the light in the darkness in some of her poems. This can be cited from the following stanza from her poetry “Virus” in which she acted as a pearl diver by taking out positive aspects from all the negativities of the world:

               “Two still worlds 
                   hugging quiet 
                  as nature unfurls 
               on the peopleless stage. 
                      Softly, it heals, 
               waiting for the creep 
                     of gentle feet 
                   and the whisper 
               of heartfelt promises 
               now we understand.”

Apart from acting as a pearl diver, she has also acted as a live painter by painting beautiful poetries based on her keen observations. Showing below one of the live paintings “Pinked” drawn by the poetess: 

“In the shimmer of sunset on rippling lakes 
             a flamboyance of flamingos 
                   are blushing lilies.”

The poetess in some of her poetries has also worked as a boatwoman by propelling personifications in her rivery-poetries. The words of the poetess Gabriela Marie Milton “A banquet of candles floods the streets” from her poetry “Professions” in her book “Woman: Splendor and Sorrow: Love Poems and Poetic Prose” fits to be used as a metaphor for the beauty of these rivery poetries. 

Quoting below a few stanzas from a few rivery poetries:

“The light begins to slumber, 
 and the rosy windows kindle, 
and the water strokes the barge 
        with soothing calm.”

“Gulping its way down the valley 
            of her slanted palm, 
a tawny brush sweeps and drags, 
sags between finger and thumb, 
for inspection and settlement.”

“Little glinting messengers, 

“Wind breathes fragile waves
        into saffron dunes”

However, the poetess has also swelled a few rivery poetries with pride by hoisting the flag of the glorious victory. This swelling is influential to motivate the readers to remain optimistic proving that the poetess is a light in the darkness. Showing the swelling in the following stanza from the poetry “Focus”: 

“Grey armour succumbs, 
  curls into a shot pellet, 
       rolls into the treasure trove”

The poetess has also worked as an intimacy director in her poetries “Tomorrow’s Bonfire” and “Moon Eyes.” 
The poetry “Tomorrow’s Bonfire” shows physical intimacy. Her direction to her   words is influential enough to make the readers visualize as if they are watching an erotic movie, showing the teaser of this erotic movie below:
“She bends her neck and gazes through the dark. 
 Her curling tongue begins its careful sweep, 
 maps contours, sampling the bond. 
 The slippery mass, inert, lies in a pool, 
 as limp as his discarded sodden shirt.” 
The poetry “Moon Eyes” depicts emotional intimacy, quoting the following words glittering with emotional intimacy:

   “we were together, 
            faces lit, 
     little moons 
      in our eyes 
like lucky pennies 
    in the darkness” 

The poetess has also worked as a tailor by beautifully sewing the metaphors and similes in her poetries like a sequin on a cloth. Showing a few sequins below:

           “blanch wintry night”
           “diluted sun”

          “frail as moon-thrown lemon-barley light”

                 “as chrome
             breaks a hole 
         in the chalky sky, 
              they are lit 
              like tinder.”             

                     “fleeting furrows  
             falling like chiffon festoons”

                wrap up in overlapped, buttonless macs, 
                     peering over their collars like spies. 
                Some are the discarded gloves of thieves, 
                      balled-up leather in untidy pairs. 
                         They drape: grey, collapsed umbrellas 
                      broken by the windy commute 
                              and flung onto pegs.”

The poetess, on the one hand, has urged her readers to embrace the beauty of nature and interact with nature in a few poetries and has also paid tribute to nature in her poetry “Earth Mother” while on the other hand has shown nature’s inhospitable attitude in the poetry “Pines” which is commendable. 

This is a mesmerizing book for those wise poetic souls who are nature lovers and have beautiful hearts with a good sensibility as well as sensitivity. 

Bios (Helen Laycock and Spriha Kant):

Helen Laycock

Poetess and storyteller, Helen Laycock’s writing encompasses poetry, microfiction, flash fiction, short stories, plays, and children’s novels.
Former recipient of the David St. John Thomas Award, and nominee for the Dai Fry Award, Helen Laycock has been a competition judge and a lead writer at Visual Verse. Her poetry has been incorporated into a U.S. art exhibition and her collection Frame was featured as Book of the Month by the East Ridge Review in 2022. 

Most recent publications are in Sun-Tipped Pillars of Our Heart and Afterfeather, both published by Black Bough.

Her poetry appears online and in numerous writing magazines and anthologies such as Popshot, The Caterpillar, Writing Magazine, Poems for Grenfell (Onslaught), Full Moon and Foxglove (Three Drops Press), Silver Lining (Baer Books Press) and From One Line (Kobayaashi Studios). 

Imminent publications are The Storms Journal, Issue Two and Hidden in Childhood (Literary Revelations)

Current poetry collections available are Frame, Breathe and 13 (poems written in just thirteen words); she is also in the process of compiling several more themed collections.

Many of her poems can be purchased as postcards at Pillar Box Poetry.

Her website Conjuring Marble into Cloud showcases some of her work.

Laycock’s flash fiction has featured in several editions of The Best of CafeLit. Pieces also appear in the Cabinet of Heed, Reflex Fiction, The Beach Hut, the Ekphrastic Review, Serious Flash Fiction, Paragraph Planet, An Earthless Melting Pot (Quinn) and Lucent Dreaming – whose inaugural flash competition she won. She was longlisted in Mslexia’s 2019 flash fiction competition and her work has several times appeared in the Flash Flood as part of National Flash Fiction Day.

She is currently compiling a second volume of microfiction, Ink Spills, to complement Wind Blown, a collection which came about because of the Twitter #vss365 challenge.

She has also written several short story collections as a result of competition success.

These fall distinctly into one or other of the categories, Dark or Light


The Darkening

Minor Discord

Peace and Disquiet


Wingin’ It… Tall Tales of (Fully-Grown) Fairies with Issues


Light Bites

More of her short stories and flash can be found at her website Fiction in a Flash

Formerly a teacher and a writer of educational text, Helen’s children’s fiction is suitable for readers of 8+ The stories are mainly mysteries, but a bit of humour has crept in, too, with a new book about to make an appearance shortly. You can find out more on her children’s website.

You can follow Helen at Facebook or at Twitter

All her books are available on Amazon.

Spriha Kant

Spriha Kant is a poetess and a book reviewer.

Spriha’s poetry “The Seashell” was published online at Imaginary Land Stories.

The poetries of Spriha have been published in four anthologies, including, “Sing, Do The Birds of Spring”, “A Whisper Of Your Love”, “Hard Rain Poetry: Forever Dylan”, and “Bare Bones Writing Issue 1: Fevers of the mind”.

Spriha has done five book reviews, including, “The Keeper of Aeons” by Matthew MC Smith, “Nature Speaks of Love and Sorrow” by Jeff Flesch, “Washed Away: A Collection of Fragments” by Shiksha Dheda, “Spaces” by Clive Gresswell, and “Silence From the Shadows” by Stuart Matthews.

Spriha has collaborated on the poetry “The Doorsteps Series” with David L O’ Nan.

Spriha has been a part of the events celebrating the launches of the books “Nature Speaks of Love and Sorrow” by Jeff Flesch and “As FolkTaleTeller.”

Spriha has been featured in interviews, including, “Quick-9 Interview” on and “#BrokenAsides with Spriha Kant” on

Spriha has been featured in “Creative Achievements in 2022” on

The links to the features of Spriha Kant are:

A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Helen Laycock

Q1: When did you start writing and whom influenced you the most now and currently?

Helen: I suppose all writers can trace their penchant for writing back to early schooldays. This evolved quite dramatically in my teens when I was asked by my English teacher to keep a folder of all my stories and poems.

What really helped my poetry develop was analysis/practical criticism of the work of established poets, both British and French, particularly Baudelaire and Verlaine. I began to understand how poems are ‘built’ using specific elements and how poetic devices can enhance the whole experience of imbibing a poem and getting as much out of it as possible.

There was a fallow writing period when I was at university, although I was still learning technique through studying English literature as a degree; I particularly enjoyed Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience, I remember, and Samuel Beckett’s The End made an impact on me, showing how writing could portray the brutality and hopelessness of existence so disturbingly; it taught me to push boundaries.

I enjoy the poetry of Simon Armitage and Sylvia Plath, but nowadays, I enjoy discovering new talent; Twitter, for example, has unearthed some fabulous writers.

Staying Alive and Being Alive (Bloodaxe) are great introductions to modern poets, and there are so many fantastic literary journals out there where new voices can be discovered.

There are some brilliant fiction writers, too, like Donna Tartt, Jeanine Cummins and Delia Owens; I’d love their storytelling skill, but it’s difficult to pin down specific influences as every writer has a unique style.

I recognise good writing when I read it, that’s for sure. Having been a judge for several writing competitions, and having to pinpoint what works, or doesn’t, there is always a ‘tighter writing’ checklist at the forefront during my own creative process.

I now dabble in a lot more than short stories and poetry, although the latter has gradually seeped into other forms of my writing. Microfiction, flash fiction, and children’s novels are also in my repertoire. I have even dipped a toe into playwriting.

Q2: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer?

Helen: As a primary school teacher, I absolutely loved teaching the children creative writing techniques and took immense delight in what they produced as a result. One day, we discussed how an ant would see the world, and talked about similes and metaphors for how he would perceive a puddle, or a blade of grass, for example. That evening, I came home and began work on my first children’s book, Charlie Chumpkins, about a tiny character who finds himself caught in a series of calamities in the world of humans. Imagine my dismay when Stuart Little came out soon after! The assumption would be that I had piggybacked the idea, so I self-published and kept reasonably quiet about it.

However, by then, I had the bug. I gave up teaching and wrote eight more books of children’s (MG) fiction, the final one of which is still tucked inside the computer, ready to make an appearance, maybe to a publisher…

Q3: Who has helped you the most with writing and career?

Helen: Ha! The Oscar speech…

I have to initially thank my teachers, of course, not only for igniting the spark, but also for their belief in me and encouragement to submit pieces to school magazines and writing contests, but, after that, I can honestly say that it’s been connections on social media which have fuelled my creative passion. I have had brilliant support from other writers, wonderful feedback from readers, and have several times been approached by editors and publishers offering platforms for my writing. I inadvertently picked up a paid writing position for an educational publisher for a couple of years; I wasn’t even looking for a job!

Q4: Where did you grow up and how did that influence you? Have any travels influenced your work?

Helen: My childhood home was Newport, in South Wales, just my widowed mum and me in a tiny two-bedroomed bungalow. I had a handful of books which I read over and over, relishing the concept that other worlds could exist outside this physical one.

My imagination slowly and tentatively found increased freedom, probing at the edges of creativity, but it took a while to acknowledge the extent to which this was ‘allowed’. I remember reading an edgy story to my mum that I had written for homework, and she was appalled! My second attempt was also met with a mother’s horror that her daughter could have such a twisted imagination. I dumbed down the whole piece for story #3, and that was the one I submitted, but it always irked me that my best writing never saw the light of day! I now have several short story collections published, some of which lean towards The Dark Side, and I relish the shocked reactions of friends who have read them as they shake their heads, muttering, ‘But you seem so nice…’

I was always aware of being ‘walled in’ by Newport, in some way, and feeling at odds with my surroundings. Whilst, in part, the boxing in was reassuringly comforting and familiar, it also somehow implied that the world outside was not mine. It was where other people did Big Things. I remember having a mental list of all the things I would have loved to do, but seemed impossible. Astoundingly, I have achieved every single one of them, writing a book (in fact, several!) being one of the dreams.

Travels have certainly contributed to my poetry. When I see something beautiful, I have to capture it in a way other than a photograph. I particularly enjoy writing about the sea and the sky. I recently published a poetry collection entitled Breathe, the blurb of which reads:

From the smallest insect to the infinite sky, the natural world has given us poetry of its very own.

And, while we can never hope to recreate anything quite as exquisite, this collection is a small reflection of some of the gifts and realities that co-exist with us during our fleeting communion on, and with, this planet.

Q5: What do you consider your most meaningful work creatively to you?

Helen: I would say that my poetry collections mean a lot to me.

Poetry comes from the heart and is infused with emotion; I do believe that, in many of my poems, I have revealed a hidden part of me. Apart from the anticipated trust which comes with the opening up of oneself in this way, the composition of the poems was no mean feat. Each one was built from the ground up, undergoing many revisions. Finally, collating the poems into collections, then into a meaningful order took a great amount of energy.

I am very proud of the collection Frame as it’s struck a chord with so many. It’s about broken people… and how many of us can honestly say that we haven’t been broken in some way? I have had some beautiful and heart-rending messages from readers who have found that the poetry in this collection relates so poignantly to them. I was delighted when the East Ridge Review showcased Frame as their featured Book of the Month for August.

Q6: Favorite activities to relax?

Helen: I find great peace in yoga and meditation. There is nothing so restful as a quiet mind.

Walking is important to me, too. I live in the countryside now where it’s a joy to hear birdsong and feel the tips of the wheat, or cold leaves brushing my fingertips as I walk through fields and woodlands. A few weeks ago, I was inspired to write a poem about the abandoned canal boats I passed on a walk, and on a recent holiday the wreck of a tiny boat inspired me. Outside is where ideas bud and where the senses come alive, which is also a great fiction resource for capturing moments and creating authentic characters in context.

Q7: What is a favorite line/stanza from one of your writings?


Curled in a seashell

sunk in my skin,

you hear my heart surge.

This is from the poem Expectation, which deals with the subject of miscarriage. It is soon to be published in Afterfeather, Black Bough Poetry’s summer anthology.

Q8: What kind of music inspires you the most? What is a song that always comes back to you as an inspiration?

Helen: I really enjoy haunting indie music, and will use search terms such as ‘rain’, ‘water’, ‘dreams’, ‘winter’, etc to find interesting pieces. I have a VERY long Spotify playlist called ‘Chill Time’. I don’t really have one song that would serve as general inspiration.

Q9: Do you have any recent or upcoming books, music, events, etc that you would like to promote?

Helen: Recently published poetry collections:




I am currently working on several more themed poetry collections (forthcoming titles: Bliss, Ether, Figment, Rapture, Reflection, and Shadowfall) as well as a second volume of microfiction which will be entitled Ink Spills.

Bonus Question: Any funny memory or strange occurrence you’d like to share during your creative journey?

Helen: I once offered a children’s book free to an online reading group in the hope of getting a few more reviews. As in all of my children’s mysteries, there is peril, but by the close of the adventure everything always turns out well.

The book, titled Mandrake’s Plot, is set in a mysterious boarding school in the Scottish Highlands. Two pupils join the school late in the term and find a key to a door at the end of their dormitory which leads to an old burial chamber. Inside, the skeleton of an evil nun clutches a piece of paper, which is the key to the whole story.

Well, I hadn’t expected a member of the reading group to be a nun… She wasn’t happy.

Bio and links

Helen Laycock’s poetry collection Frame was August’s Book of the Month at the East Ridge Review. Other poetry features in Popshot, From One Line, Poems for Grenfell (Onslaught) and Full Moon and Foxglove (Three Drops Press), and will imminently appear in Afterfeather, Black Bough Poetry’s Summer Anthology. She won the David St. John Writing Award for Novice Poetry in 2006 and is a nominee for the Dai Fry Award for Mystical Poetry.

Her children’s poetry has been twice published in The Caterpillar Magazine.

Helen Laycock|Poetry

In 2018, she was commissioned as a lead writer at Visual Verse and her flash fiction has featured in several editions of The Best of CafeLit. Pieces have been showcased in the Cabinet of Heed, Reflex Fiction, the Ekphrastic Review, Serious Flash Fiction, Paragraph Planet and Lucent Dreaming – whose inaugural flash competition she won. She was longlisted in Mslexia’s 2019 flash fiction competition and her work has several times appeared in Flash Flood Journal as part of National Flash Fiction Day. She has published several short story collections and is currently compiling a second volume of microfiction.

Helen Laycock | Fiction in a Flash

Tiny Tales

She has penned nine children’s books for 8-12-year-olds and has been employed as a writer by an educational publisher.

Helen Laycock | Children’s Author

All her books are available on Amazon

She can be followed on Facebook

and Twitter @helen_laycock