About a week before she died of cancer on 13 September 2017, Helen Lee surprised the Long Breast Press Collective by requesting us to publish a book of her poetry. In several conversations with Claudia and Jean, Helen gave clear instructions about which poems she wanted included - and the shape of some of them on the page. This book is a result of these conversations and we are proud that we have been able to bring one of Helen’s dreams to fruition - even if posthumously. The book was launched at a small gathering at Helen’s place.
(You can see a gallery of images from the launch on 27th May, 2018: "tthemada" - Helen Lee)
The Long Breast Press launch of the late Helen Lee’s book tthemada lesbian poetry at Helen’s place in Fawkner in on 10 December 2017 was a relaxed and intimate gathering of Rachel and Helen’s friends.
We acknowledged we were gathered on Wurundjeri country.
Rachel talked about her relationship with Helen and her poetry and sang a moving and loving song in remembrance of her beloved who died on 13 September 2017.
Anneke talked about how Helen had asked her to do drawings of particular Australian grasses to illustrate the book which has enhanced the poetry no end.
The LBP collective members, Barbary, Claudia and Jean read several of Helen’s poems to give everyone an idea of just how talented Helen was as a poet and how well these poems gave a broad impression of Helen’s political and personal life. Helen’s ability to incorporate and overcome the many challenges she’d faced over the years as well as how much love and friendship played a large part in Helen’s way of being in the world was also featured in the poems.
You will find that some of the poems in this collection reflect joyful, mischievous, reflective and loving moments in Helen Lee’s life. Others are darker and may not be as easy to read, yet they, too, portray the reality of Helen’s life and struggle. We hope that readers will choose to read this poetry collection as a whole – in order to remember and gain a rounded impression of, Helen Lee.
Ardy, who emceed the event, spoke about the photo of Helen she’d taken at a friend’s 70th birthday party and we all agreed how well it fitted in with the kangaroo grass and the blue sky on the back cover.
The LBP collective then said a few words about the process of publishing this beautiful book, thanked everyone who had contributed and declared it launched.
Ardy, Barbary, Claudia and Jean
Long Breast Press Collective