Here at Literature Works we’re interested in the way that place impacts upon literature. Naturally then, when Penelope Shuttle’s brand new collection Will You Walk A Little Faster? arrived at our office, we were intrigued to go on the journey it promised.

 

Throughout the collection, the reader is taken on a journey through two very distinctive cities – Bristol and London. Both cities are beautifully rendered in the poems. Bristol is brought to life with a startling sense of shrewd observation and perfectly pitched poignancy in poems such as ‘Girls in Bristol’ whereas London is for me, never clearer than in the poem ‘British Library’. Shuttle in these poems, isn’t just a visiting poet, there is a real sense that the voice of the poems has been in these places – they have existed, they have become a part of the fabric of the cities and have a deep understanding of them. These are therefore excellent ‘geography’ poems – if you want to know more about landmarks and sights, they are a great place to start, but the simultaneous subtlety and depth of this collection makes the poems so much more.

 

In addition to an excellently rendered sense of place, this collection also contains mythic references to the legends of King Arthur and his Knights, a repeated trope here which hints that a geographical reading only of this delightful but at times heart-wrenching collection would perhaps not do the poems the justice they deserve. The ghosts of Arthur, of Lancelot, of Guinevere swirl around these poems and dance with the ghosts the voice here encounters on the journeys explored.

 

There is a real sense of the journey as a physical thing here but also an as an emotional and times spiritual concept that utterly captivated me, poem after poem. This collection certainly inspires thought and the resounding one I was left with was, if I thoroughly recommend it, will you walk a little faster to get it for your bookshelves?

 

Will You Walk a Little Faster? is available now from Bloodaxe Books.