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 in London. Poems from her three award-winning collections, Electroplating the Baby (1988), Phrase Book (1992) and My Life Asleep (1998) are gathered in a selected poems, Her Book (2000). She has won a number of literary prizes including the Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best First Collection, the Forward Prize for Best Collection and the National Poetry Competition (twice). Tender Taxes, her versions of Rilke, was published in 2001. Of Mutability, published in 2010, won the Costa Book Award. In 2011 Jo Shapcott was awarded the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry. She is Professor of Creative Writing at Royal Holloway, University of London. 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).