Towards the end of his life the German poet Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926) wrote nearly four hundred poems in French - notably the two collections published as Les Fenetres (The Windows) and Les Roses. The emergence of a French Rilke provides the starting point rather than the terminus for Jo Shapcott's new collection, Tender Taxes, which re-imagines Rilke's brief and fugitive lyrics as English poems. The occasion is Rilke, but these are more than versions: Shapcott's poems address this, arguing with the originals, crossing and re-crossing the frontier between translation and origination. Rilke and Shapcott are brought together in the shared incognito of a foreign language, 'speaking English through a French mouth'.
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.