Clare Shaw has three poetry collections from Bloodaxe: Straight Ahead (2006), which attracted a Forward Prize Highly Commended for Best Single Poem; and Head On (2012), which is, according to the Times Literary Supplement ‘fierce … memorable and visceral’. Her third collection, Flood, was published in June 2018.
Often addressing political and personal conflict, her poetry is fuelled by a strong conviction in the transformative and redemptive power of language. Clare is a Royal Literary Fellow, and a regular tutor for the Poetry School, the Wordsworth Trust and the Arvon Foundation. She is also a mental health trainer, activist and author: her publications include “Otis Doesn’t Scratch: talking to young children about self-injury” (PCCS Books, 2015); and “Our Encounters with Self-Harm” (2013). She is passionate about the meeting ground between poetry and mental wellbeing, and is the facilitator of the Poetry School’s international online course, “Poetry as Survival”.
Clare’s most recent collection – Flood – offers an eye-witness account of the floods of 2013 and 2015. Acting as a powerful metaphor for wider experiences, flood runs through the book in different forms – bereavement and trauma, the Savile scandal, life in an asylum. Ultimately, this is a story of one life as it is unravelled and rebuilt, written from the heart and from the North, in a language as dangerous and sustaining as water. ‘As a reader you cannot expect an easy time with Clare Shaw. She deals with the big subjects, war and conflict, violence and violation but also the subtler themes of language as a means of expression, identity and the difficulties of motherhood. She takes us to places we may be reluctant to go but more importantly she fixes her gaze on us and demands our attention and our involvement’ (James Carruth, The North).