Jo Shapcott - Author

About the Author

Jo Shapcott was born in London. Poems from her three award-winning collections, Electroplating the Baby (1988), Phrase Book (1992) and My Life Asleep (1998) are gathered in a selected poems, Her Book (2000). She has won a number of literary prizes including the Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best First Collection, the Forward Prize for Best Collection and the National Poetry Competition (twice). Tender Taxes, her versions of Rilke, was published in 2001; Of Mutability in 2010.

Photo credit © Derek Adams.

Featured books by Jo Shapcott

Other books by Jo Shapcott

The Transformers, The Newcastle/Bloodaxe Poetry Lectures

The Transformers, The Newcastle/Bloodaxe Poetry Lectures

Author: Jo Shapcott Format: Paperback Release Date: 29/03/2012

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. This intimacy is profound, and the range of an individual's responses to any single book is enormous: the writers we read are as close as friends, enemies, lovers - closer perhaps. Speaking English through a French Mouth: The German-language poet Rainer Maria Rilke also wrote over four hundred poems in French. This lecture shows how these worked on Shapcott's imagination first as a reader, and then as a writer, culminating in Tender Taxes , her versions of the French poems. The lecture is illustrated with rare engravings by Rilke's lover Balandine Klossowska which accompanied ten of his French poems in their first publication. How poets read poets: Spender wrote of Hopkins that he 'ferments in other poets'. The second lecture looks at how Hopkins has been transformed by reading in the work of Elizabeth Bishop, Robert Lowell, Seamus Heaney and others. By examining this variety of reactions to one writer, Shapcott discovers more widely how poets read and what their reading tells us about them as writers. Where to find a poem: a rough guide for the 21st century: Has the relationship between the contemporary reader and the poem been transformed by the strange times we live in? This lecture is a series of stories, all illustrating the relationship between readers and writers, looking at how we read and how we transform our reading. It takes in a variety of writers, including Coleridge, Galileo Galilei, and Harald Hardrada, a King of Norway in the ninth century but also a poet. This is the fourth book in the Newcastle/Bloodaxe Poetry Series .

Of Mutability

Of Mutability

Author: Jo Shapcott Format: Paperback Release Date: 02/06/2011

Jo Shapcott's award-winning first three collections, gathered in Her Book: Poems 1988-1998, revealed her to be a writer of ingenuous, politically acute and provocative poetry, and rightly earned her a reputation as one of the most original and daring voices of her generation. 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.

Of Mutability

Of Mutability

Author: Jo Shapcott Format: Paperback Release Date: 06/01/2011

Jo Shapcott's award-winning first three collections, gathered in Her Book: Poems 1988-1998, revealed her to be a writer of ingenuous, politically acute and provocative poetry, and rightly earned her a reputation as one of the most original and daring voices of her generation. 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.

Her Book Poems 1988-1998

Her Book Poems 1988-1998

Author: Jo Shapcott Format: Paperback Release Date: 05/01/2006

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.

Emergency Kit

Emergency Kit

Author: Jo Shapcott Format: Paperback Release Date: 02/09/2004

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.

Elizabeth Bishop: Poet of the Periphery

Elizabeth Bishop: Poet of the Periphery

Author: Jo Shapcott, Linda Anderson Format: Paperback Release Date: 30/04/2002

Elizabeth Bishop is one of the greatest poets of the 20th century. When she died in 1979, she had only published four collections, yet had won virtually every major American literary award, including the Pulitzer Prize. She maintained close friendships with poets such as Marianne Moore and Robert Lowell, and her work has always been highly regarded by other writers. In surveys of British poets carried out in 1984 and 1994 she emerged as a surprising major choice or influence for many, from Andrew Motion and Craig Raine to Kathleen Jamie and Lavinia Greenlaw. A virtual orphan from an early age, Elizabeth Bishop was brought up by relatives in New England and Nova Scotia. The tragic circumstances of her life - from alcoholism to repeated experiences of loss in her relationships with women - nourished an outsider's poetry notable both for its reticence and tentativeness. She once described a feeling that 'everything is interstitial' and reminds us in her poetry - in a way that is both radical and subdued - that understanding is at best provisional and that most vision is peripheral. Since her death, a definitive edition of Elizabeth Bishop's Complete Poems (1983) has been published, along with The Collected Prose (1984), her letters in One Art (1994), her paintings in Exchanging Hats (1996) and Brett C. Millier's important biography (1993). In America, there have been numerous critical studies and books of academic essays, but in Britain only studies by Victoria Harrison (1995) and Anne Stevenson (1998) have done anything to raise Bishop's critical profile. Elizabeth Bishop: Poet of the Periphery is the first collection of essays on Bishop to be published in Britain, and draws on work presented at the first UK Elizabeth Bishop conference, held at Newcastle University. It brings together papers by both academic critics and leading poets, including Michael Donaghy, Vicki Feaver, Jamie McKendrick, Deryn Rees-Jones and Anne Stevenson. Academic contributors include Professor Barbara Page of Vassar College, home of the Elizabeth Bishop Papers.

Tender Taxes

Tender Taxes

Author: Jo Shapcott Format: Paperback Release Date: 08/10/2001

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 Fenetres (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'.

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