Penelope Shuttle’s collection explores cities (London, Bristol) on foot and via inward exploration, drawing on architecture, history and personal memory. These are poems drawn from the flipside of experience, undermining and rebuilding syntax in order to precipitate language, and, in the main, abjuring punctuation. The poems also engage both with active and meditative thinking in order to establish a vulnerable and temporary equilibrium; poems more interested in framing questions than arriving at answers.
The volatile and tactile realities and delusions of being in the world direct much of the language’s traffic here; there’s a commingling of sadness and wry humour in Shuttle’s travels through our physical and metaphysical worlds. Pared-back imagery and lyric purpose are embodied here throughout in the work of a poet who agrees with Ekbert Faas’s comment: ‘as soon as you have a new syntax, you have a new way of breathing, and as soon as you have that you have a new consciousness’.
Will You Walk a Little Faster? was Penelope Shuttle’s first new book-length collection since her Bloodaxe retrospective, Unsent: New & Selected Poems (2012), and was published on her 70th birthday. It was followed by a later collection, Lyonesse, in 2021.
‘It is the gentle pace that captivates in her poems. And what a phenomenal poet she is (she has recently celebrated her 70th birthday). She has an unbossy, contemplative, unmistakable voice. She leads you quietly and helps you see things – London especially – afresh.’ – Kate Kellaway, Poetry Book of the Month, The Observer
‘This is a richly various volume, one which will delight her many admirers, and deserves to make new converts of those previously unfamiliar with the world (or worlds) that Penelope Shuttle opens up to us.’ – Roger Caldwell, London Grip [on Will You Walk a Little Faster?]
‘At once conversational, tender, witty and spirited, the poems in Will you walk a little faster? read (an effect aided by their minimally capitalized titles) almost as one poem; a hymn to the heartbeat of the city.’ – Suzannah V. Evans, Times Literary Supplement
Penelope Shuttle reads 'Missing You'
Penelope Shuttle reads her long elegiac poem 'Missing You' from Unsent. This film is from the DVD-book In Person: 30 Poets, filmed by Pamela Robertson-Pearce, edited by Neil Astley.