Our Patrons: Penelope Shuttle, Lucy English 


Penelope Shuttle

Penelope Shuttle

"I’ve had the pleasure of reading at Bristol Poetry Festival, and to have attended readings by other

poets there. In addition, my daughter lives in Bristol, so I am well acquainted with the city, and am

aware how much Poetry Can adds to the vitality and range of cultural life in the city.

I am now a Patron of Poetry Can, and am honoured by this. I’m very happy to add my voice to those

many voices supporting and praising the organisation. Poetry Can is a long-established poetry

organisation which is highly-regarded through the UK. My experience as a reader for the festival is

that their administration is of the highest quality, and a reader is made most welcome.

I shall be reading from my New And Selected Poems at the Spring Festival next year, and am

eagerly anticipating my visit."

  Penelope Shuttle was born in Staines in 1947 and has lived in Falmouth, Cornwall since 1970. She was married to the poet Peter

Redgrove who died in 2003, after several years of ill-health. Since Penelope's first collection of poems, The Orchard Upstairs, appeared

from Oxford University Press in 1981, she has published a further seven collections plus a Selected Poems. Her eighth collection,

Redgrove’s Wife (Bloodaxe Books), 2006, was short-listed for The Forward Prize and for The T S Eliot Award. Her ninth collection,

Sandgrain and Hourglasswas published in October 2010, (Bloodaxe Books). She has received a Radio Times Drama Bursary Prize,

the Greenwood Poetry Prize, an Eric Gregory Award, three Arts Council Awards, an Authors’ Foundation Grant.

In 2007 she received a Cholmondeley Award from The Society of Authors. She is a tutor for The Poetry School, The Arvon Foundation,

Second Light Network and Ty Newydd.

Penelope's new book, Unsent: New & Selected Poems 1980-83 will be published by Bloodaxe Books in  October 2012.




Penelope Shuttle - To a Singing Master

Oxfam, Marlybone St, 2009


Penelope Shuttle at the Tai Chi Village Hall

May 2008

Click covers below to purchase books

Unsent - New and Seleceted Works   Sandgrain and Hourglass   Redgrove's Wife

Unsent - New and Selected Works

  Sandgrain and Hourglass   Redgrove's Wife



Lucy English

Lucy English

"I am delighted to be a patron of Poetry Can. Poetry Can is central to promoting and developing poetry

and spoken word throughout the South West. As a lecturer in creative writing I am keen to foster creative

talent and for my students to realise that poetry is not something written by dead people and found only

in books.

As a practicising poet I appreciate the events and festival that Poetry Can features in this area. Poetry is

a live force and it is unstoppable! Just a quick flick through the 'events' section of the Poetry Can website

reveals the range of talent featured in this area and the level of support it offers to the poetic community."

 Lucy English was born in Sri Lanka and grew up in England. She studied English and American Literature at the University of East Anglia,

and later obtained an MA in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University.

She has published three novels: Selfish People (1998), set in contemporary Bristol; Children of Light (1999); and Our Dancing Days

(2000), set in a Suffolk commune in the 1970s. She became a performance poet after first winning the Bristol Poetry Slam in 1996, and

has since gone on to tour worldwide, performing her poetry at several international festivals including the Austin International Poetry

Festival, and Wordfest, at Calgary in Canada. Her poetry has also been published in a variety of anthologies.

In 2003 she co-ordinated the International Conference in the writing and practice of performance poetry at Bath Spa University. In 2005

she was one of the poets on the Temptation Tour and in 2006 was artistic director of Apples and Snakes Poetry Tour, Exposed. In 2007,

she was a finalist in the first BBC Radio 4 Poetry Slam.

Her latest publication "Why I'm Here" is a collaboration with the photographer Sally Mundy. Lucy English is a lecturer in Creative Writing

at Bath Spa University College, and was Royal Literature Fellow at the University of Cardiff Institute during 2007-08.




Lucy English at Apples and Snakes



Lucy English at Calgary and Banff Lit

Fest 2006


Lucy English Cheltenham Literature

Festival 2008


 Poetry Can's first patron was Dennis O'Driscoll

Dennis O'Driscoll (1954 -2012)

Poetry Can was very sad to learn of the death of Dennis O'Driscoll on Christmas Eve, 2012.

Dennis, of course, made a remarkable and very beautiful contribution to poetry, he was a poet, editor, critic, reader and ambassador. 

He was also a patron of Poetry Can.

Dennis was born in Thurles, County Tipperary in 1954. He published nine extradordinary books of poetry including: Weather Permitting,

Exemplary Damages, and Reality Check. Troubled Thoughts, Majestic Dreams the first collection  of his poetry essays and reviews showed

just what a talented, insightful, engaging and inspiring critic he was.

The Bloodaxe Book of Poetry Quotations is an eminently entertaining (and useful) collection of quotes on the love, the art and craft,

the business and many other aspects of poetry and could be the inspiration for a thousand or more poetry workshops. Stepping Stones:

Interviews with Seamus Heaney by Dennis O' Driscoll is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful, enjoyable and absorbing books

about a poet, and about poetry, ever written. Stepping Stones '  was a project that could probably only have been completed by

Dennis O'Driscoll, he clearly and certainly inspired Seamus Heaney and this book has become an important part of Heaney's oeuvre.

Dennis's latest collection Dear Life showed him on top form and offering fresh and highly original takes on working and ageing, loving

and dying, God and Mammon all in the everyday, touchable world. 

 Dennis was also a wonderfully entertaining reader of his poetry as anyone lucky enough to have been at one of his readings will confirm.

 I will remember him for all these poetry things but also, and especially, for his kindness, his generosity, his modesty and his wisdom. 

I will keep warmly the memories of the unfortunately few times I spent with him.

If grief is inevitably always a very private and individual experience, it's also something we all have to go through at sometime or other

and there's solidarity in that, our thoughts go out to Dennis O'Driscoll's loved ones, particularly his wife, the poet Julie O'Callaghan. 


Colin Brown

Director, Poetry Can

Dennis O'Driscoll  (1954 - 2012)

"Bristol, like Blackpool, has its illuminations. Those in Blackpool emanate, of course, from the resort’s famous ‘festival of light’, whereas

in Bristol it is the city’s festival of poetry, and the extraordinary year-round work performed by Poetry Can, that generate the energy,

excitement and – yes – illumination that have made Poetry Can known and admired, well beyond the South West, as a beacon of

inspiration, a  shining example of limited resources used to maximum artistic and public benefit. In these times of relentless cutbacks

and budget slashes, Poetry Can deserves every possible support from donors. Although I live in Ireland, the light from Poetry Can has

reached my shores; and I have long been struck by the unwavering commitment to poetry and the unflagging zest of the Poetry Can

team. In becoming a patron, I hope to spread the light further by lending my voice to appeals for support for Poetry Can. To allow its

vision to dim, even a little, would be a great loss not just to the South West but to an essential art at which Britain has always excelled."

Dennis O’Driscoll poet, essayist, critic, and editor, was born in Thurles, County Tipperary, Ireland in 1954.

He has written three chapbooks, nine books of poetry, including New and Selected Poems(2004) (a Poetry Book Society Special

Commendation), and Reality Check(2007), and a collection of essays and reviews:Troubled Thoughts, Majestic Dreams, (2001).

He has also edited and compiled contemporary quotations about poets and poetry: The Bloodaxe Book of Poetry Quotations (2006),

and has published a book of his dialogues with Seamus Heaney: Stepping Stones: Interviews with Seamus Heaney (2008).

Among his awards are a Lannan Literary Award in 1999, the 2005 E.M. Forster Award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters 

and the 2006 O’Shaughnessy Award for Poetry. A new poetry collection, Dear Life, is scheduled to appear in May 2012. His second

collection of essays and reviews will also appear this year.


Click on covers below to purchase books 

Reality Check   New and Selected Works   Bloodaxe Book of Poetry Quotations   Stepping Stones - conversations with Seamus Heaney
Reality Check   New and Selected Poems  

The Bloodaxe Book of Poetry Quotations

  Stepping Stones: interviews with Seamus Heaney