Press release: 10 November 2005

Jo Shapcott is the new president of the Poetry Society.

The Poetry Society is delighted to announce that Jo Shapcott will take over from Paul Muldoon in the role of Poetry Society president. This is an exciting time for the Poetry Society as it moves towards its centenary in 2009. During the next three years Shapcott will play a prominent role in affirming the Poetry Society's place as the country's flagship poetry organisation - not just during the last one hundred years, but facing forward to the next one hundred as well.

Shapcott teaches on the MA in Creative Writing at Royal Holloway College, University of London. She is also Visiting Professor in Poetry at the University of Newcastle and Visiting Professor at the University of the Arts, London. She is Consulting Editor for Arc Publications.

Her book Poems 1988-1998 (2000), consists of a selection of poetry from her three earlier collections: 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). She has also won the National Poetry Competition twice. Together with Matthew Sweeney she edited an anthology of contemporary poetry in English, gathered from around the world, entitled Emergency Kit: Poems for Strange Times (1996).

As the Poetry Society heads towards such an exciting milestone in its history, Shapcott is delighted to be taking a key role. As she says, "For nearly 100 years, the Poetry Society has been a force for poetry, poets and readers. It's certainly been there every step of the way for me and it's a privilege to get the chance to give something back." Since it began in 1909 the Poetry Society has successfully raised awareness of poetry to a wide constituency through its publications, education work, competitions, events and activities. In more recent years these have included the Poetry Places scheme, National Poetry Day and the Society's award-winning website

Most recently the Poetry Society's "Stanza" initiative was set up to allow poets to expand the work of the Society locally throughout the country. This new initiative, an expanded events programme, and a strong historical tradition distinguishes the Poetry Society as a leading UK literature organisation with a dynamic new president at its helm.

Notes to Editors

  • Shapcott was an undergraduate at Trinity College, Dublin. She has worked with a number of musicians on collaborative projects. She has written lyrics for, or had poems set to music by, composers such as John McCabe, Detlev Glamert, Nigel Osborne, Alec Roth, Erollyn Wallen, Peter Wiegold and John Woolrich. Her poems were set to music by composer Stephen Montague in The Creatures Indoors, premiered by the London Symphony Orchestra at the Barbican Centre in London in 1997.
  • From 2001-2003, during the BBC Proms season, she presented the weekly 'Poetry Proms' on Radio 3.
  • Her book Tender Taxes, a collection of versions of Rainer Maria Rilke's poems in French, was published in 2002. She is co-editor (with Linda Anderson) of a collection of essays about Elizabeth Bishop.· To find out more about the Poetry Society visit

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