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Publications

Poetry Collections

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Costa Book of the Year

2010

In Of Mutability, Shapcott is found writing at her most memorable and bold. In a series of poems that explore the nature of change - in the body and the natural world, and in the shifting relationships between people - these poems look freshly but squarely at mortality. By turns grave and playful, arresting and witty, the poems in Of Mutability celebrate each waking moment as though it might be the last, and in so doing restore wonder to the to the smallest of encounters.

Poems 1988-1998 is a compendium from Jo Shapcott's award-winning books Electroplating the Baby,Phrase Book and My Life Asleep. It reveals her to be a writer of ingenious, politically acute and provocative imagination and justifies her reputation as one of the most original and daring voices of her generation.

Towards the end of his life the German poet Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926) wrote nearly four hundred poems in French - notably the two collections published as Les Fenêtres (The Windows) and Les Roses. The emergence of a French Rilke provides the starting point rather than the terminus for Jo Shapcott's new collection, Tender Taxes, which re-imagines Rilke's brief and fugitive lyrics as English poems. The occasion is Rilke, but these are more than versions: Shapcott's poems address this, arguing with the originals, crossing and re-crossing the frontier between translation and origination. Rilke and Shapcott are brought together in the shared incognito of a foreign language, 'speaking English through a French mouth'.

Jo Shapcott's award-winning first book, Electroplating the Baby , established her as an important member of the younger generation of poets. In this book, she calls on a host of different voices to offer their witty and sharply ironic views on the modern world. 

The title-poem describes an experiment by a nineteenth century French scientist who devised a way of mummifying bodies by giving them a metal coating. Not all of Shapcott's poems are as bizarre and gruesome as this tour de force, but her tales of the unexpected are as disconcerting.

Other

A further volume in this highly influential series,which aims to present a complete overview of contemporary British poetry. These are three poets with an already established reputation. The poets themselves have made the selections,which gives the book added interest.

My Life Asleep is a vigorous collection of poems, lively and never succumbing to gloom, despite their black humour and sometimes macabre tone. This is Jo Shapcott's third collection.

Emergency Kit is an anthology with many differences. It is, to begin with, a book which gives prominence to poems rather than to the poets who wrote them. It is truly international, bringing together poems not just from these islands but from many parts of the English-speaking world. It is the first book to identify a strain in the poetry of the last half-century which is characteristic of the 'strange times' we live in - an age when, as the editors note, scientific discovery itself has encouraged us to 'make free with the boundaries of realism'. It values imagination, surprise, vivid expression, the outlandish and the playful above ideology and sententiousness. It is, in short, living proof that poetry in the English language continues to thrive and to matter.

In this innovative series of public lectures at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, leading contemporary poets speak about the craft and practice of poetry to audiences drawn from both the city and the university. The lectures are then published in book form by Bloodaxe, giving readers everywhere the opportunity to learn what the poets themselves think about their own subject. Jo Shapcott's three lectures explore how writers are transformed by reading. Too little attention has been paid to our relationship with what we read. The authors who are important to us move into our houses; they come alive so that we feel close enough to engage in imaginary discussions and arguments with them.

In this series, a contemporary poet selects and introduces a poet of the past. By their choice of poems and by the personal and critical reactions they express in their prefaces, the editors offer insights into their own work as well as providing an accessible and passionate introduction to some of the greatest poets of our literature. George Herbert (1593-1633) was educated at Westminster School and Trinity College, Cambridge, where he was appointed Reader in Rhetoric in 1618 and Public Orator in 1620. He was a Greek and Latin scholar, was fluent in modern languages and an accomplished musician. In 1626 he resigned his seat in parliament and took holy orders, becoming Rector of Bemerton, a tiny rural parish on Salisbury Plain, in 1630. The Temple, Herbert's great structure of poems from which the present selection is drawn, first appeared in 1633, the year of his death. 

These poems were commissioned for the last year of the century. For one week at the end of 1999 these poems form part of a festival in the city of Salisbury, flown from aircraft, written in stained glass, as tattoos, grown into fields, shown in cinemas and lit up in fireworks.

The tragic circumstances of Elizabeth Bishop's life nourished an outsider's poetry notable both for its reticence and tentativeness. This book presents a collection of essays devoted to Bishop and the influence she has had on poetry.