Gillian Allnutt: Contribution as English Poet

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      Gillian Allnutt is a British poet whose versatile use of rhyme and vowel music is distinctive in her generation of post-feminist poets and poetics. Allnutt was born in 1949 at London, received a convent and grammar school education and studied Philosophy and English at Cambridge. She has taught in further and adult education, and was poetry editor for City Limits before moving to County Durham to live and work. During her time in London she lived in squats, short-life and co-op houses, and involved herself actively in the Women's Arts Alliance Poetry Workshop from 1976 to 1980. Her experimental pamphlet, The rag and bone man's daughter imagines a happy family (1978), and first major book, Spitting the Pips Out (1981), were helped into existence by the support she received from other women writers.

      Allnutt's follow-up work, Lizzie Siddall: Her Journal (1862) (1985), is a successful sustained attempt to inhabit the mind of the ironmonger's daughter who eventually married Rossetti. She co-edited the controversial anthology The New British Poetry in 1988. Allnutt had by this time left London for the North-East: 'to a self-imposed exile in which I hoped I might learn to stop leaving'. Her subsequent collections - particularly Blackthorn (1994) and Nantucket and the Angel (1997) - demonstrate a deepening of spiritual consciousness and lyric authority. Her stance owes much to the thorny grace and example of Anna Akhmatova (whom she acknowledges as her 'adoptive godmother'). Allnutt's boldly poetic syntax, often rooted in past models, is a significant venture in British postmodernism.

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