Jo Shapcott (1953 – ) is an English poet, editor and lecturer. She won the National Poetry Competition in 1985 and 1991. Her collections include: Electroplating the Baby (1988), which won the Commonwealth Poetry Prize for Best First Collection, Phrase Book (1992), and My Life Asleep (1998), which won the Forward Poetry Prize (Best Collection), and Her Book: Poems 1988-1998 (2000). Of Mutability, (Faber, 2010) was shortlisted for the Forward Poetry Prize and won the Costa Prize for Book of the Year. She was also awarded the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry in 2011 for Of Mutability. She is co-editor (with Linda Anderson) of a collection of essays about Elizabeth Bishop and co-editor with Matthew Sweeney of an anthology of contemporary poetry, Emergency Kit: Poems for Strange Times. Shapcott teaches on the MA in Creative Writing at Royal Holloway, University of London.
To read Jo Shapcott’s poem “The Threshold” click here:
by Jo Shapcott
I waited all day for tears and wanted them, but
there weren’t tears. I touched my lashes and
the eyewater was not water but wing and fur
and I was weeping bees. Bees on my face,
in my hair. Bees walking in and out of my
ears. Workers landed on my tongue
and danced their bee dance as their sisters
crowded round for the knowledge. I learned
the language too, those zig-zags, runs and circles,
the whole damned waggle dance catalogue.
So nuanced it is, the geography of nectar,
the astronomy of pollen. Believe me,
through my mouth dusted yellow
with their pollen, I spoke bees, I breathed bees.
© 2011 by Jo Shapcott
For more Bee Poems: