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Will You Walk a Little Faster?

Published in ‘Will You Walk a Little Faster?’  (Bloodaxe Books, 2017)

Like Rosamund the Fair
I speed over Folly Bridge

like Alice
I look both ways
before crossing Speedwell Street

I’m not
as you see
an official guided walking tour

Like Fair Rosamund
I quickstep down Rose Place

like swift Alice
I skip across St Aldate’s

the brainbox city
huffing and puffing in my ear

I’m not hurrying off
to visit a dozen harpsichords

or the church
where William Morris was married

or to see the remains of a dodo
I plan to read

not one
of the six million books

in The Bodleian
or admire a single dreamy spire

or stand in sombre silence
on the spot

where Latimer
Mortimer and Ridley
were roasted alive on god’s turnspit

because I’m heading straight
for the heart

of this leather-bound city
where’s there’s good reason for shadows

where I’ll find
panaceas of lavender

penny-royal and nettle
rose-petal potions

medicinal oak-scented valerian
balms and syrups of hollyhock

daffodil and milk-thistle
the Many-Leaf Pharmacy where

like the porpoise not the snail
I’m walking a little faster

waltzing like Rosamund the Fair
and Little White Alice

through the wards and waiting rooms
of The Physic Garden

earthy source of tincture and tisane
the help-yourself of nature

who wears a green coat
not a white
don’t you agree?

Visit Bloodaxe Books website


My Life, I can’t fool you,

you know me too well,

I’m sad of myself,

days live me in vain,

you test me

but bin my answers,

you’re so busy, so tired,

evenings in the glass,

drink them, My Life,

but you won’t,

driving your bargains

of years gone by,

promising me

this and that till

the walls are spells,

the roof’s a star,


I seal the hour

in a tear,

a mortal tear,

I know you so well,

My Life, not at all

My Life

Published in ‘Will You Walk a Little Faster?’  (Bloodaxe Books, 2017)

Visit Bloodaxe Books website


Will You Walk a Little Faster?

By Penelope Shuttle. Published by Bloodaxe Books, May 2017

Penelope Shuttle’s new 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 with inward exploration where both active and

meditative thinking seek a vulnerable 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?’ is Penelope Shuttle’s first new book-length collection since her Bloodaxe

retrospective, ‘Unsent: New and Selected Poems 1980-2012’, and was published on her 70th birthday.

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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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