Pick-a-Poem: Penelope Shuttle


Hello, blog readers! It’s time for another installment of our Pick-a-Poem feature. Each week, we feature a new poem in the hopes of exposing you to some new poetry to read. These poems always come from Poetry Daily, which is a very handy website where you can find a new poem every day. This week we’re featuring Serving the people of West London by Penelope Shuttle.

According to her bio, Penelope Shuttle has published nine collections of poetry since her first in 1981. Her eighth collection, Redgrove’s Wife (2006), was short-listed for The T S Eliot Award. Her ninth collection, Sandgrain and Hourglass was published in 2010. In addition, her work has appeared in publications including The Poetry Review, Poetry London, The Wolf, and P N Review. She has received numerous prizes for her work and leads poetry workshops at literary festivals.

Serving the people of West London by Penelope Shuttle

Like today’s fine bus
bearing this wise slogan
(merely one of a fleet of fine hardworking buses)
I too wish to serve the people of West London
for am I not West London born and bred?
Did my grandfather Lipscombe not spring from fair Stanwell
and grandfather Frederick from slightly-fairer Egham?

Let me serve the people
let them demand an elegy or a sestina
a villanelle or a handful of quatrains in praise of West London
even a coronet of sonnets           I’ll supply it

Be in touch
people of West London
people of Uxbridge and Feltham
of Southall Boston Manor Brentford and Hillingdon
even leafy Chiswick with your wide variety of quality food outlets

When hunger for poetry surges through you
people of Richmond and Twickenham and dear dingy Hounslow
when that hunger surges into your Western hearts
Heston and Heathrow   Norbiton and New Maldon
I’ll dish it up—
delicious nourishing stanzas on under-praised West London
with its lovely orchards and forests much diminished
but hanging-in there in beautiful back gardens and
unmockable little parks
and in living proof of a good place say
none better than the Moor of Staines
where proud Highland cattle still graze

My desire to serve the people of West London
is what gets me out of bed every morning
propelling me breakfastless
to my screen
to praise and extol the beauty and truth
only to be found in West London
and when I collapse into bed at word-drained midnight
I fall asleep confident that the people of West London
will never go in want of poetry      I will serve them

I hope you enjoyed this week’s featured poem! For more posts like this, click here.

— Jet Fuel Blog Editor, Mary Egan


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