Penelope Shuttle (born 1947) has made her home in Cornwall since 1970 and the county's
and rich history are continuing sources of inspiration. So too is the personal and
artistic union Penelope
shared with her husband, the poet Peter Redgrove, until his untimely death in 2003.
"For me it is the way the poem breathes that gives it form"
The fruitful nature of their relationship is celebrated in her
poetry and in the work they accomplished together, most
notably in the groundbreaking feminist studies on menstruation,
‘The Wise Wound’,and its sequel, ‘Alchemy for Women’.
Recognition came quickly for Penelope with an Eric Gregory -
Award in 1974 that acknowledged her poetry's visionary power.
This quality is something she shares with the poets she read in
translation, voices such as Rilke, Ahkmatova, and Lorca, whose
early influence was far more profound than the pervading
realism of the English poets of the period. Penelope has also
written five acclaimed novels as well as seven poetry collections,
her Selected Poems (OUP, 1998) being a Poetry Book Society -
Penelope's poems are full of elemental imagery: water, earth and,
in particular, lightening, as in her description of her marriage in
'The Weather House' with its "trembling galvanic rooms". Whilst
her subject matter can be everyday - motherhood, depression,
bereavement - she refuses to be bound by anecdote, drawing
instead on myth and dream to transform reality: in her work "the
ordinary seen as heavenly" ('Thief') becomes the norm. In keeping
with her role as witness, Penelope's language sometimes has a
ceremonial quality about it, a setting aside of words from their
everyday currency which is like the difference between a coin
used to buy bread and a coin thrown into a well as an offering
"Splashing down// for reverence, not luck" ('The Well at Mylor').
However, when dealing with the intimacies of family life, such
as the shift of a daughter into womanhood ('Outgrown') or the
process of grief, as in the moving sequence for her husband,
'Missing You', Penelope can be painfully direct. Please click here
to see Penelope read her long poem ‘Missing You’ from
A recent comment on how Penelope shapes her work is revealing:
"For me it is the way the poem breathes that gives it form." This
close relationship between breath and word can be heard in her
elegant interpretation of her poems in which voice and line
match each other like partners in a dance.
Eric Gregory Award
Shortlisted for Forward Poetry Prize
Shortlisted for T. S. Eliot Prize
Greenwood Poetry Prize
The British Council
To view The British Council website, please click here.
The Poetry International Foundation
To view The Poetry International Foundation website, please click here.
The Poetry Archive
To view The Poetry Archive website, please click here.
To view the Poetry PF website, please click here.
The Poetry School
To view The Poetry School website, please click here.
Bloodaxe Books Limited
To view all books published by Bloodaxe Books, please click here.
Nine Arches Press
To view all books published by Nine Arches Press, please click here.
To view all books published by Templar Poetry, please click here.
Indigo Dreams Publishing
To view all books published by Indigo Dreams Publishing, please click here.
Cornwall Contemporary Poetry Festival
Will be held in Falmouth, from Thursday 22
to Sunday 25 November 2018
Penelope Shuttle has made her home in Cornwall
since 1970 and the county’s mercurial weather and
rich history are continuing sources of inspiration.
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