Leena Helka was born in Rauma and lived in Sweden with her husband Stig Nystrand in the 1950s and 1960s. During this period she published four poetry collections in Swedish: Födelsesdagens natt, 1960, Sju systrar, 1962, Halva djurriket, 1963, and Fosterbarn, 1965. In her poems, which are appreciated for their visuality and vibrant metaphors, she mixes gravity and melancholy with the inventiveness deriving from the joy of language. Prior to these collections, she published two poetry collections in Finnish and two prose books, including Preludium (P), 1951, and Ikäänkuin ei yksin (SS), 1955.
She has also written a number of books for children, including an encyclopaedia for younger age groups, Lasten teitosanakirja, 1965, and Me hirviöt, 1976. Her novel about Edith Södergran, Edithin seitsemän sanaa, was published in 1982.