Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry 2016
Denise Levertov described Gillian Allnutt’s poems as ‘at once hard and delicate, like wrought iron’. Both serious and light in touch, humane and profound, this new collection explores the manifestations of the Spirit, tracing it back through the familiar world of Christianity to its roots in the shamanic. This journey goes 'about and roundabout': living in past and present simultaneously; seeking to marry masculine and feminine – in the figure of Mary Magdalene, say, or those of the almost ghostly mother and son in ‘Steppe’ or ‘In Armenia’. The language of these poems inhabits the state, the indwelling, of meditation – that nest of thin air – berthing what, a moment ago, was neither here nor there.
indwelling was Gillian Allnutt's first new collection since Wolf Light (2007), included in her Bloodaxe retrospective How the Bicycle Shone: New & Selected Poems.
‘From her first collection published in the early 1980s, Gillian Allnutt’s work has always been in conversation with the natural world and the spiritual life. Her writing roams across centuries, very different histories and lives, and draws together, without excuse or explanation, moments which link across country, class, culture and time. The North is a constant touchstone in her work; canny and uncanny, its hills and coast, its ancient histories and its people. Her poems progress over the years to a kind of synthesis of word-play and meditation. In her work the space between what is offered and what is withheld is every bit as important as what is said. She has the power to comfort and to astonish in equal measure. In her outlook, her imagination, her concerns and her lyric voice she is unique.’ - Dame Carol Ann Duffy, Poet Laureate, on behalf of the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry Award Committee
‘To read her poems is to be struck by their elemental, worn, limber intelligence, what Adam Thorpe, the poet, playwright and novelist, praises as their sense of ‘half-revealed mystery’. Her startling, beautiful, mythic work was recognised earlier this year with the award of the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry.’ – Jonathan Doering, The Friend
'Allnutt’s wonderful poems allow in ever more silence, figured on the page by a double space between lines and the meditative force of her images.' - Adam Thorpe, Times Literary Supplement, Books of the Year 2013