This collection is a book of lament and celebration. Its focus is the life and death of her husband, the poet Peter Redgrove, coupled with the loss of her father. Here, grief, depression and ageing are confronted with painful directness, but transformed into life-affirming and redemptive poetry.
Other poems written over the same five-year period are inspired by a wide variety of subjects, from Cornish history and landscape to time, weather, spiders and postal regulations. Some draw on myth and dream to reinvent reality, while others take surprising liberties with language itself.
Penelope Shuttle writes: ‘Despite Peter’s worsening health, many of the poems take as their task the search for a renewal of life during difficult circumstances. How to go on loving the world, which is what a poet is for, when it deals you severe blows, forcing you to give up much of what gives life its energy and delight. My years as a carer for Peter and the sadness of witnessing his decline into frailty due to a combination of Parkinson’s, arthritis and diabetes, were a time when I fought off depression and anger, not always successfully, but turned to poetry as channel for and transformer of such emotions. After Peter died, it was poetry that provided me with “the proper consolations of human loneliness”.’