Posted on 26/01/2011
Professor Jo Shapcott at the Costa Awards: Credit AP
Award-winning author Jo Shapcott, Professor of Creating Writing at Royal Holloway, University of London, was last night named the winner of the Costa Book of the Year Award for her latest book of poems Of Mutability.
Professor Shapcott won the £30,000 prize for her collection of poetry which judges described as “fizzing with variety” and “a paean to creativity.”
Her victory makes it two years in a row poetry has won the award.
“I’m so shocked I’ve won”, said Professor Shapcott. “People always try to measure poetry, whether it has gained momentum or fallen back or is it fading away but it's always there, it really is always there.”
“Whenever I get talking to people about poetry, whether it's a cab driver or someone I meet randomly and they ask me what I do and I tell them and 99% will say 'I wrote a poem once' and whatever that poem is like it gives you a confidence that people really know it's the way of speaking about things of profound importance."
Of Mutability consists of a collection of poems that explore the nature of change, both in the body and the natural world as well as in human interaction. It celebrates the small wonders of life, acting as a reminder of its transience.
The judges said: “These strong poems are rooted in the poet’s experience of breast cancer but are all about life, hope and play. Fizzing with variety, they are a paean to creativity and make the reader feel that what matters to us all is imagination, humanity and a smile."
Jo is the current President of The Poetry Society and author of Electroplating the Baby, which won the Commonwealth Poetry Prize for Best First Collection. She has also won the National Poetry Competition twice. Together with Matthew Sweeney she edited an anthology of contemporary poetry in English, but gathered from around the world, entitled Emergency Kit: Poems for Strange Times.