Denise Levertov described Allnutt's poems as "at once hard and delicate, like wrought iron". They are both serious and light in touch, deeply humane and spiritually profound, showing the spirit surviving amongst the tatters of Christianity in a modern wilderness.
How the Bicycle Shone includes selections from her books Spitting the Pips Out (1981), Beginning the Avocado (1987), Blackthorn (1994) and Nantucket and the Angel (1997), as well as the whole of Lintel (2001), Sojourner (2004) and a collection of new poems, Wolflight (2007).
"What is most attractive about her work is that she is never solemn about the spiritual life which fascinates her."
Helen Dunmore, Observer
"Hers are original poems, scrupulous, unflashy, meditative, pushing at the ineffable, peculiarly inside language, earning their hard-won spiritual insights and flaring with sudden illuminations that are sustaining for all of us."
Michael Laskey, Aldeburgh Poetry Festival
"She's an original, though, ascetic and startling."
Sean O'Brien, Sunday Times
"[Her] reticence has increased with each book of poetry and forms the clearest line of development in her work."
Stephen Matterson, Metre
"Gillian Allnutt is a quietly original poet who has followed an uncompromising path. In its inwardness, its emblematic use of nature and its intense spiritual quest, her poetry is in the line of Hopkins and Geoffrey Hill. Her tone and verbal music is quite her own."