Straight Ahead is Clare Shaw’s first collection. Firmly located in the social and physical landscape of northern England, the poems capture intimacy, loss, fragmentation and delight – being alive in all its colours. The book follows the trajectory of a life through childhood, breakdown and love, recording on the way the million sufferings and hopes of everyday life.
The poems move rapidly between contrasting experiences and emotions, from violence to madness, yet are held together by Clare Shaw’s ever-present love of language, her celebration of sound, rhythm and imagery. These are poems that are – like the lives and the landscapes they record – by turn harsh and tender, humorous and bleak. Dynamic, darkly humorous, and exactingly detailed, they invite the reader into a rich and complex world.
‘The energy and vivacity of Clare Shaw’s writing, its colloquial power, frame of reference and sheer sound is enough to mark her out as one of the most talented young poets to appear in recent years. Hers is a natural gift that speaks as it sings. It confronts the world with knowledge, pity, melancholy, affection and a kind of sympathetic fury, as if the world were shards and fragments that could be gathered into the ear and sung from the heart. And the remarkable thing is that she does gather it and sing it, that she imbues it with the passion owing to it’ – George Szirtes
‘Hold your breath when you read Clare Shaw’s poems. Startling, searing, scorching, this is an emotional blast of a book’ – Jackie Kay