'Look up to catch eclipses, gold leaf, comets'

Of Mutability 

by Jo Shapcott
Jo Shapcott.jpg


Of Mutability

Too many of the best cells in my body
are itching, feeling jagged, turning raw
in this spring chill. It’s two thousand and four
and I don’t know a soul who doesn’t feel small
among the numbers. Razor small.

Look down these days to see your feet
mistrust the pavement and your blood tests
turn the doctor’s expression grave.
Look up to catch eclipses, gold leaf, comets,
angels, chandeliers, out of the corner of your eye,
join them if you like, learn astrophysics, or
learn folksong, human sacrifice, mortality,
flying, fishing, sex without touching much.
Don’t trouble, though, to head anywhere but the sky.

by Jo Shapcott

'Of Mutability' by Jo Shapcott from 'Of Mutability' (Faber & Faber, 2011). Reproduced by permission of Faber & Faber.


Poem as Friend to Hannah

Of Mutabilityby Jo Shapcott

In this episode, Hannah talks about the poem that has been a friend to her – ‘Of Mutability’ by Jo Shapcott.

We’re delighted to feature ‘Of Mutability’ in this episode and would like to thank Faber & Faber for granting us permission to share the poem in this way.

You can find ‘Of Mutability’ in OF MUTABILITY by Jo Shapcott (Faber & Faber, 2011). Reproduced by permission of Faber & Faber.

Hannah visited The Poetry Exchange at Manchester Central Library, as part of the celebrations of International Mother Languages Day in the city.

Many thanks to our partners Manchester Libraries, Archives Plus, The Manchester Writing School at Manchester Metropolitan University and Manchester UNESCO City of Literature.


Hannah is in conversation with The Poetry Exchange team members, Michael Shaeffer and Fiona Bennett.


We talk to people about the poem that has been a friend to them.

In exchange we create a gift for them, a bespoke reading of their chosen poem inspired by the conversation. Our award-winning podcast shares these unique and powerful stories of connection with people across the world. 


We set up an intimate environment for these conversations at festivals, in arts, cultural and public spaces across the country. We also hold exchanges ‘long distance’. Our visitors come from all walks of life and we also feature well-known personalities such as Andrew Scott, Maxine Peake, Roy McFarlane and Paterson Joseph.