Poet in Residence

From time to time a poet is in residence at the Poetry Archive, talking about poetry with anyone who wants to join in the conversation. You are welcome to explore our archive of past residencies and read some of the lively and varied discussions you'll find there.

Jo Shapcott

Jo Shapcott

Jo Shapcott (b.1953) is from London but traces her family roots to the former mining communities of the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire. She studied at Trinity College, Dublin, and currently teaches on the MA in Creative Writing at...

Poetry and Science

Jo Shapcott - 6 July 2007

Poets are curious about almost everything: there is nothing that is not interesting. Any aspect of the world - humans, our interaction with what's around, who's around - is likely to grab my attention. The things that scientists know and the way they know is fascinating. For example, contemporary findings in neuroscience and in physics are changing long-help philosophical views about identity, and about time and space. Who we are and where we live. How could this not be of cutting-edge interest to writers?


Jo Shapcott - 27 June 2007

I am writing this at The Hurst in South Shropshire, which is one of the Arvon Foundation's four houses for writers (www.arvonfoundation.org.uk). We are in the beautiful Clun valley, but higher than the floods and swollen rivers all around this week. A couple of days ago a bridge collapsed in nearby Ludlow, and today we are aware that the River Severn is rising not far away. The force of the recent weather here has made me think how poets have responded to responded to this aspect of nature.

Poetry Readings

Jo Shapcott - 31 May 2007

My most memorable poetry reading would have to be hearing Ted Hughes many years ago in London. His voice and the energy he radiated left a powerful impression which comes back to me every time I read his poems. There are two recordings by Hughes in the archive: 'Pike' and 'February 17th'. Check them out and let us know what you think. From my point of view as a reader, these public events give me the chance to say the poems out loud in the way I hear them inside my head (if you see what I mean) so that I can communicate their music to the audience.

Hello, welcome, and an A to Z of animal poems

Jo Shapcott - 9 May 2007

Philosophers and poets have been fascinated by animals from the earliest times. They are the main subject of one of the first forms of human artistic expression: cave paintings. We have always celebrated our dependence on them for food, clothing, company and more. There is something compelling about their closeness to us, our connectedness, summed up in Darwin's words: 'from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved.'

Glossary term


The forming and use of words and phrases to imitate or suggest the sounds they describe.

A tour of the Archive with Connie Ruzich

As a university teacher who lives in an inland city surrounded by mountains, streams, and rivers, I sometimes have a...

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