Penelope Shuttle interviews & reviews for Lyonesse

Penelope Shuttle interviews & reviews for Lyonesse


'... a singular, arresting and moving book' - Kate Kellaway on Lyonesse, Poetry Book of the Month, The Observer


Penelope Shuttle's thirteenth book of poetry Lyonesse - two collections in one - was published by Bloodaxe Books on 24 June 2021. Penelope launched the book with an in person event at  Ledbury Poetry Festival and online with Bloodaxe on 22 June 2021.   Lyonesse was longlisted for the Laurel Prize 2022.

The submerged land of Lyonesse was once part of Cornwall, according to myth and the oral tradition, standing for a lost paradise in Arthurian legend, but now an emblem of human frailty in the face of climate change. And there was indeed a Bronze Age inundation event which swept the entire west of Cornwall under the sea, with only the Isles of Scilly and St Michael’s Mount left as remnants above sea-level. Lyonesse was also Thomas Hardy’s name for Cornwall where Penelope Shuttle has lived all her adult life, always fascinated by the stories and symbolic presence of Lyonesse.  The first part of her new book Lyonesse is an extended sequence inspired by this submerged land.  This is followed by a separate collection New Lamps for Old.

Penelope Shuttle’s previous collection Will You Walk a Little Faster? explores cities (London, Bristol) on foot and via inward exploration, drawing on architecture, history and personal memory. This was her first new book-length collection since her Bloodaxe retrospective, Unsent: New & Selected Poems (2012).


Penelope wrote an article about the long poem as an extended sequence for the Long Poem Magazine, which appeared online on 21 March 2022. 

'My latest collection, Lyonesse, is a loosely assembled extended sequence of poems of varying lengths, whose common ground is the submerged region of West Cornwall.  I use legend, myth, and contemporary marine archaeology, and my own experiences of loss, to create a journey into an under-sea world where reality is both suspended and enhanced.' - Penelope Shuttle

Read in full here.


An excellent review of Lyonesse featured in the Winter 2022 issue of The High Window.  Read in full here.

'In Lyonesse, a substantial collection arranged into two sections, Penelope Shuttle has achieved something remarkable: the creation of a poetic world in which it is possible to become completely immersed... It is a world that is both magical and moving in equal measure.' - Phil Kirby, The High Window




Letters to a Young Woman Poet, BBC Radio 4, Sunday 9 October 2022, 4.30pm (repeated Saturday 15 October, 11.30pm)

Penelope Shuttle and Grace Nichols joined Welsh poet Gillian Clarke for Letters to a Young Woman Poet, a beautiful Radio 4 feature about creativity broadcast on 9 October.  Their thoughts and poetry were woven together with music.

Grace read her poems ‘Confirmation’ (Passport to Here and There), ‘Invitation’ (I Have Crossed n Ocean: Selected Poems) and ‘Moon-Mothers’ (The Insomnia Poems).  Penelope Shuttle read her poems ‘Ashes, Blood’ and ‘Mother and Child’ (Unsent: New & Selected Poems).

‘In ‘Letters to a Young Woman Poet’ - three of our most celebrated poets: Gillian Clarke, Penelope Shuttle and Grace Nichols, explore the deep pleasure of writing, the poetry of menstruation, sensuality and motherhood, and offer advice to younger writers - in a programme which includes the creative insights of the Bohemian poet Rainer Maria Rilke – who began the iconic correspondence known as ‘Letters to a Young Poet’ 120 years ago.  With quotations from 'Letters to a Young Poet' trans. M.D.Herter Norton’

Grace reads ‘Confirmation’ at 9:38, ‘Invitation’ from 15:36 and ‘Moon-Mothers’ at 24:52. Penelope reads ‘Ashes, Eggs’ at 11:10 and ‘Mother and Child’ from 20:56.
The programme will remain available to listen to via BBC Sounds. Listen here.


Pick of the Week, BBC Radio 4, Sunday 16 October 2022, 6.15pm

Clips from Benjamin Zephaniah’s ‘terrific interview’ with Ian McMillan on The Verb and Clare Shaw’s The Essay on Vaughan Williams, both from BBC Radio 3, were chosen by radio producer Geoff Bird for his Pick of the Week on 16 October.  He also chose the ‘spare, simple and immensely rewarding gem’, the Radio 4 feature Letters to a Young Woman Poet with poets Penelope Shuttle, Grace Nichols and Gillian Clarke, and played a clip from one of the segments with the latter.

Letters to a Young Woman Poet with Penelope Shuttle and Grace Nichols is introduced at 7:35, Clare Shaw at 11:03, and Benjamin Zephaniah features from 30:50, opening with a clip of him reading ‘Dis Poetry’.

Available until 6 pm on 17 November 2022. Listen here.




The Verb, BBC Radio 3, Friday 25 February 2022, 10pm

Penelope Shuttle was a guest on Radio 3’s The Verb on 25 February.  She was discussing literature and poetry about extremes with host Ian McMillan and guests from the furthest geographical points of the UK. Penelope is based in Falmouth in Cornwall.  She read from the first part of her double collection Lyonesse.

Penelope opened the programme with a reading of her poem ‘Boat-drawn’, and closed it with a discussion about the submerged land of Lyonesse and readings of her poems ‘Interviewing Neptune’ and ‘My Friend’.

‘Ian McMillan goes to the extremes this week to explore writing from the edges of time and place with Shetland based poet Jen Hadfield, John Henry Falle aka The Story Beast, Penelope Shuttle who's latest poetry collection explores Lyonesse, a lost and mythical land that once formed the land's end of Cornwall and Jon Ransom who's debut novel is a visceral and poetic story set in the wide expanses of Norfolk.’

Penelope features in the intro and from 37:09.  Listen here.



The Guardian, Best poetry books of 2021, Saturday 4 December 2021

Penelope Shuttle’s 13th collection Lyonesse was chosen by  Rishi Dastidar as one of his poetry books of the year in The Guardian.  He had previously reviewed her double collection in his best recent poetry round-up The Guardian in August (see below).

‘… Penelope Shuttle, in her wonderfully clarifying Lyonesse, paints a picture of mythic lands submerged under seas and the loss, personal and environmental, that follows.’ – Rishi Dastidar, The Guardian (Best poetry books of 2021)

Read the full feature here.



The Observer, Poetry Book of the Month, Sunday 4 July 2021

Penelope Shuttle’s Lyonesse was featured as Kate Kellaway’s Poetry Book of the Month in The Observer of 4 July. The piece was accompanied by the poem ‘new lamps for old’, the title poem of the second half of this double collection.

‘At 74, she has produced a singular, arresting and moving book in which her talent, far from seeming familiar or faded, is underpinned by the accumulated wisdom of decades. The book contains two collections in one, hinged by a theme of loss. Lyonesse is Cornwall’s mythical kingdom – its Paradise Lost… It is this kingdom that has fired – watered – Shuttle’s imagination and produced an extraordinary flow of work… Shuttle’s Lyonesse is fresh, clear and convincing. It gives grief geography, an address. I believe in its direct dispatches from a submerged front line.’ – Kate Kellaway, The Observer, Poetry Book of the Month for July 2021

‘Combining two collections in one, the veteran poet immerses us in a mythical kingdom in this extraordinary flow of work’
Read the review in full here.


The Guardian, Best Recent Poetry, in print Saturday 7 August 2021

Penelope Shuttle’s Lyonesse was reviewed in Rishi Dastidar’s round up of the best recent poetry in The Guardian of 7 August.

‘Penelope Shuttle’s wonderful 13th collection is two books in one. The first half of Lyonesse maps a mythical, submerged stretch of land between Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, where lions and ballgowns jostle for attention with sunken gods and pre-Raphaelite artist and muse Lizzie Siddal. Shuttle uses this terrain to explore loss, both personal and environmental. The second half, “New Lamps for Old”, focuses more directly on life after bereavement and its shifting sensations… Throughout Shuttle’s language has a vivid, smile-raising immediacy: “venture towards the happiness wherever daylight invites us”.’ – Rishi Dastidar, The Guardian, Best Recent Poetry

Read online here.


Buzz Magazine, August 2021

Lyonesse was featured in the second of Mab Jones’ round ups of new independently-published poetry in the Welsh magazine Buzz.

‘The first section of the book, in a breathtaking showcase of skill and imagination, animates the mythical land of Lyonesse, which in legend once sat at the southwestern tip of Cornwall. Symbolism, the surreal, spiritual motifs, and more, shift and swirl together, as fluid and full of changeability as the “shape-shift silvers” of wave and sea that we delve beneath to encounter this once-was place. In the second part of the book… Shuttle paints a picture of life without a beloved, bringing details to the fore in order to tell – and touch – the reader. Fluid, thoughtful, and full of imagination, this is quite simply a must-read.’ – Mab Jones, Buzz

Read online here.


An excellent review of Lyonesse was posted on the international poetry website Write Out Loud on 28 August 2021.

‘Penelope Shuttle gives us a collection packed with Cornish myth and magic, overlaid with environmental warning, and a deeper sense of yearning for what has gone.’ – Greg Freeman, Write Out Loud

Read in full here.

An in-depth review features on The Friday Poem of 17 September 2021. 

'... Shuttle turns the lost land of Lyonesse into our collective sub-conscious, a place which holds grief for many kinds of loss, and an emblem of human frailty in the face of climate change... Much of the writing in this fine collection is beautifully turned and deeply moving' - Hilary Menos, The Friday Poem

Read in full here.


Excellent review on the Painted, spoken blog of 31 October 2021.  Read in full here.

Lyonesse is in two parts, the first dealing with the drowned kingdom of Lyonesse, and the second, ‘New Lamps for Old’, describing a slow recovery from trauma. These exist in necessary continuity, and it emerges that their composition overlapped… The intimate and the vast are held in remarkable balance here. It takes a bold and lithe poet to manage that.’ – James McGonigal, Painted spoken


Lyonesse was very well reviewed by Maggie Wang in the Spring 2022 issue of Poetry Wales.

'Shuttle uses these threads of history to craft a world rich with everyday colour, but, like ours, ultimately dominated by the threat of environmental change... haunting and atmospheric poems... a deeply moving collection.' - Maggie Wang, Poetry Wales, on Lyonesse


A wonderful review of Lyonesse featured in the Winter 2022 issue of The High Window.  Read in full here.

'In Lyonesse, a substantial collection arranged into two sections, Penelope Shuttle has achieved something remarkable: the creation of a poetic world in which it is possible to become completely immersed... It is a world that is both magical and moving in equal measure... At times demanding, at others truly enchanting, there is so much more that could be said about this extraordinary and beautiful book that it is difficult to do it justice here. Ultimately, the thing to do is get yourself a copy, hold your breath and be prepared to dive in.' - Phil Kirby, The High Window




An in-depth interview with Penelope Shuttle went online ahead of her Zoom reading with Fire River Poets on 7 April 2022.  Read the interview here.


The Poetry Place, West Wilts Radio, Sunday 29 August 2021, 3pm

Penelope Shuttle was a guest poet on West Wilts Radio’s The Poetry Place on 29 August 2021.

In this fifteen-minute pre-recorded piece, Penelope read exclusively from the first half of her double collection Lyonesse.  She read and introduced: ‘The Gownshops’ (the poem that sparked the collection), ‘Palm Sunday’, ‘Fortuna’, ‘O Shake That Girl with the Blue Dress On’, ‘Legends’, ‘Jackie Onassis orders new dancing shoes’, ‘Sermon of the Crayfish Christ, or The Latitudes’, ‘Interviewing Neptune’ and ‘Goodbye’.

Host Dawn Gorman introduces Lyonesse at 2:06.  Penelope Shuttle features from 28:54.

Listen here.


Penelope Shuttle was a guest on the Irish podcast Books for Breakfast, hosted by poets Peter Sirr and Enda Wyley, on 10 June 2021.  She was talking to Peter about her 13th collection Lyonesse, and read four poems from the book.

‘She’s an adventurous and wide-ranging poet, praised for her spare style – the poems are very close to song’ – Peter Sirr, introducing Penelope Shuttle on Books for Breakfast

Penelope Shuttle also took on the toaster challenge, and chose to speak about Collected Early Poems: 1940-1960 by Denise Levertov.  Bloodaxe publishes Denise Levertov’s New Selected Poems. ‘Levertov’s fidelity to the imagination has been, and remains, priceless treasure to me.’ – Penelope Shuttle, on Denise Levertov

Penelope is introduced at 23:00.  Listen to the interview here


An in-depth interview with Penelope Shuttle about Lyonesse is online at Wombwell Rainbow Book Reviews here. Penelope was speaking to Paul Brookes.


Penelope Shuttle took part in a special event on 10 June 2021 celebrating Bloodaxe Books, hosted by Poetry Breakfast (a Zoom bookclub event hosted by Anna Dreda of Wenlock Books) – together with fellow Bloodaxe poets A B Jackson, Susan Wicks and Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry winners David Constantine, Fleur Adcock and Imtiaz Dharker.  Bloodaxe Books was Poetry Breakfast's first guest publisher.

A blog featuring all six poets and the three poems they read from their new and recent collections is here.

[16 June 2021]

Back to News And Publicity






View Larger Text