Emergency Kit is an anthology with many differences. It is, to begin with, a book which gives prominence to poems rather than to the poets who wrote them. It is truly international, bringing together poems not just from these islands but from many parts of the English-speaking world. It is the first book to identify a strain in the poetry of the last half-century which is characteristic of the 'strange times' we live in - an age when, as the editors note, scientific discovery itself has encouraged us to 'make free with the boundaries of realism'. It values imagination, surprise, vivid expression, the outlandish and the playful above ideology and sententiousness. It is, in short, living proof that poetry in the English language continues to thrive and to matter.
Jo Shapcott was born and continues to live in London. Twice winner of the National Poetry Competition, she has published seven collections with Faber including Her Book: Poems 1988-1998 which selects from three earlier volumes: Electroplating the Baby (1988) which won the Commonwealth Poetry Prize, Phrase Book (1992) and My Life Asleep (1998) which won the Forward Poetry Prize. Her most recent collection Of Mutability (2010) won the Costa Book Award and in 2011 she was awarded the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry. Matthew Sweeney is an Irish poet and editor of The New Faber Book of Children's Poems and Emergency Kit: Poems for Strange Times (with Jo Shapcott).