Three years after writing his first poem for the young woman of interest, Shuttleworth attended a creative writing class. Later on, he received an M.A. in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University and an M.F.A. in Playwriting from the University of Nevada in Las Vegas. Although he was a talented student writer, Shuttleworth observed that during his time in San Francisco he felt intimidated by poets like Allen Ginsberg and Lawrence Ferlinghetti, saying, “I didn’t feel I could be equal in any way to them.”
Eventually, though, Shuttleworth proved his youthful doubts wrong and became one of the most prolific western poets and playwrights to date. With a career spanning over 50 years, Shuttleworth is a three-time winner of the famous Spur Award, was honored as the Best Living Western Poet in 2007 by True West Magazine, and received the 2016 Western Heritage (Wrangler) Award for Outstanding Poetry Book from National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum for his collection of poems titled Woe to the Land Shadowing. He has also published his poetry in over 100 journals. In addition, Shuttleworth’s numerous plays have been performed at the Sun Valley Festival of New Western Drama, the Sundance Playwright’s Lab, and the Utah Shakespearean Festival. His newest play, titled Tumbledown, was presented in a staged reading at Saddleback College on March 16, 2017.
Nowadays, Shuttleworth is retired from both teaching English and serving as an assistant baseball coach at Big Bend Community College in Moses Lake, Washington, and chooses to spend his leisure time writing poems and plays in his home, Columbia Basin. When asked by a WALL staffer what inspires him, Shuttleworth answered that he doesn’t wait for inspiration to hit him because he is “compulsive,” which means that he writes every day. Before he left, he gave a piece of advice to WALL staffers: don’t be afraid to have bad days. Shuttleworth noted that he was “willing to have bad nights” and that “bad writing is part of the process—like a tennis player warming up.” Lastly, he expressed a genuine and heartfelt sentiment in regards to writing that only a genuine and heartfelt man could make: “Writing will chase you down. Isn’t that something? That’s what happened to me. Writing chased me down.”
--Gina Victoria Shaffer contributed to this report.