Clare Shaw on BBC Radio 3's The Essay

Clare Shaw on BBC Radio 3's The Essay

 

'Towards a General Theory of Love is the fourth collection by Clare Shaw, a much-cherished poet who won a Northern Writers’ Award in 2018. Her searching and magnetic poems hold a clarity of thought as they explore multiple emotional states and perspectives.' - Will Mackie, New Writing North (New & recent poetry from the North, Summer 2022)

 

Towards a General Theory of Love, the fourth collection by Clare Shaw (they/them) was published by Bloodaxe in May 2022. It won a Northern Writers' Award for work in progress. Clare's brilliant joint live-streamed launch reading of 31 May 2022 is now on YouTube, and can be seen below. 

Towards a General Theory of Love follows Flood, Clare Shaw's eye-witness account of the devastating floods in Britain left whole swathes of the country submerged, including their home town of Todmorden, but ripples out from there. Intimately interwoven with the breakdown of a relationship, flooding serves as a powerful metaphor for wider experiences of loss, destruction and recovery.

Clare Shaw regularly gives readings and workshops across the UK. Clare has been Poet-in-Residence at Swindon Poetry Festival and in 2021 was Carbon Landscape Poet in Residence for Lancashire Wildlife Trust and Manchester Literature Festival. A film of Clare reading new work on location, followed by a conversation with fellow poet Helen Mort about the main themes illuminated through Clare's poetry, featured online as part of Manchester Literature Festival in October 2021, and is still available - video below. 

 

BBC RADIO 3’s THE ESSAY  WITH CLARE SHAW - a BBC Radio 4 Pick of the Week Top Choice

The Essay: Clare Shaw: Vaughan Williams: Belonging, BBC Radio 3, Monday 10 October 2022, 10.45pm

Poet and dramatist Clare Shaw wrote and narrated a powerful and beautiful piece about Vaughan Williams for BBC Radio 3’s The Essay on 10 October.  Clare was one of five writers and artists not normally associated with classical music invited to discuss a specific example of Vaughan Williams’ work to which they have a personal connection, and why it speaks to them.

Near the end of the essay, Clare read ‘Rhosymedre: Prelude on a Welsh Hymn’ from their fourth collection Towards a General Theory of Love.

'Clare considers the role that Vaughan Williams’ setting to music of the Welsh hymn Rhosymedre has played in their life. They first played it as a teenager on the viola, for the Burnley Youth Orchestra. It symbolised an expression of beauty, love and hope, a sense of voice and connection to place and possibility... It is also that rare moment in music where the viola gets to carry the melody. Then, in Clare’s fifties, when their mother (a cellist) died, the piece became a conduit for overwhelming grief, a way of holding the horrific and sublime experience of being present at the moment of death. Clare came home after their mother had died and played Rhosymedre, then wrote this poem about her and the music.’

Listen via BBC Sounds here.
 

Pick of the Week, BBC Radio 4, Sunday 16 October 2022, 6.15pm

Clips from Benjamin Zephaniah’s ‘terrific interview’ with Ian McMillan on The Verb and Clare Shaw’s The Essay on Vaughan Williams, both from BBC Radio 3, were chosen by radio producer Geoff Bird for his Pick of the Week on 16 October.  He also chose the ‘spare, simple and immensely rewarding gem’, the Radio 4 feature Letters to a Young Woman Poet with poets Penelope Shuttle, Grace Nichols and Gillian Clarke, and played a clip from one of the segments with the latter. Clare Shaw’s Radio 3 Essay was his top pick:

‘It’s a stunning piece of writing and reading and feeling, with Vaughan Williams at its heart, but touching on so much else, including culture and class and the redemptive power of music.’ – Geoff Bird on BBC Radio 4, choosing Clare Shaw’s Radio 3 Essay on Vaughan Williams as his top Pick of the Week

Letters to a Young Woman Poet with Penelope Shuttle and Grace Nichols is introduced at 7:35, Clare Shaw at 11:03, and Benjamin Zephaniah features from 30:50, opening with a clip of him reading ‘Dis Poetry’.

Available until 6 pm on 17 November 2022. Listen here.

 

ONLINE BEST POETRY BOOKS OF 2022 FEATURE

Expert Reviews, Best poetry books you can buy in 2022, 3 October 2022

Two Bloodaxe titles were chosen by Simon Williams for his best poetry books of 2022 feature.  They were Moniza Alvi’s book-length poetry sequence Fairoz and Clare Shaw’s fourth collection Towards a General Theory of Love.

‘As the title suggests, this is a book of love poems, but more an exploration of aspects of love; familial, romantic and how Clare Shaw feels about herself… An early piece is entitled “This is a very small poem”, but there are no small poems in this amazingly real and open study of love.’ – Simon Williams, Expert Reviews (Best poetry books you can buy in 2022)

Read the full feature here.

 

ONLINE REVIEW COVERAGE

A wonderful in-depth review of Clare Shaw's 'shattering new collection' Towards a General Theory of Love is online at The Yorkshire Times here.

A detailed review of Towards a General Theory of Love featured in The Friday Poem on 23 August 2022, available to read online here.

A brilliant four-page review of Towards a General Theory of Love was featured in the Journal of Child Psychotherapy and published online 8 November 2022.

‘As with their previous collections with Bloodaxe, Straight ahead (2006), Head on (2012) and Flood (2018), their fourth collection is unwaveringly direct and often painfully raw and honest; but more than this, it is also beautifully written, with such a palpable sense of community, interconnectedness, humanity and shared experience, that one comes away from reading it feeling emotionally richer and in no way diminished.’ - Charlotte Burton, Journal of Child Psychotherapy

Available online in full for free to the first fifty readers here.


IN PRINT REVIEW COVERAGE

'An authentic, strong and searingly honest voice comes through this fourth collection of poems from Clare Shaw, published by Bloodaxe Books.  In Towards a General Theory of Love, Shaw explores love from a range of different perspectives, imbued with melancholy, pain, suffering, and hope.' - Jane Broadis, The School Librarian

'Clare Shaw's fourth collection is an exploration of how grief, as the 'negative image of love', colours and changes every aspect of the world... Shaw's particular genius for simile, titles and list-poems are also evident here. The poet's distinctive northern voice resonates through assured rhythm, exquisite rhyme when needed, and the music of lament especially in elegies and memories about their mother.' - Pauline Rowe, Orbis


An excellent two-page review of Clare Shaw’s fourth collection Towards a General Theory of Love was featured in Writing in Education issue 87, Summer 2022. 

‘The collection reaches well beyond the bounds of its 58 component parts, feeling by turns like a play, therapy, friend. Indefinable, then, but no matter – it is a triumph.’ - Dawn Gorman, Writing in Education
 


JOINT LAUNCH EVENT ON 31 MAY 2022

Tuesday 31 May 2022, live-streamed launch reading by Jo Clement, Sarah Wimbush and Clare Shaw

Bloodaxe's joint launch reading by Jo Clement, Sarah Wimbush and Clare Shaw celebrating the publication of their new poetry collections was live-streamed on 31 May 2022, and is now on YouTube. They were reading from and discussing their new collections with the host, Bloodaxe editor Neil Astley, and with each other.  All three poets have won Northern Writers' Awards for poems included in these collections.

Jo Clement read first in each set, followed by Sarah Wimbush. They were reading from their first full collections Outlandish and Shelling Peas with My Grandmother in the Gorgiolands. Clare Shaw was reading from their fourth collection, Towards a General Theory of Love.   Passionate, mesmerising readings from all three poets, followed by a wonderful discussion during which they drew out the connections between their three books.

 

 

MLF FILM WITH CLARE SHAW

Manchester Literature Festival, November 2021

Clare Shaw

Watch Clare Shaw perform new poems inspired by their time as Carbon Landscape Poet in Residence for Lancashire Wildlife Trust and Manchester Literature Festival earlier this year. Clare reads new work on location, followed by a conversation with fellow poet Helen Mort about the main themes illuminated through Clare's poetry, including the healing of post-industrial landscapes, and their own recent experiences of finding solace and recovery in green spaces. What happens when we engage with nature? How do local wildlife and green spaces shape us – and how do we shape them? Can we reverse environmental damage – and can poetry play a role?  They discuss Flood in particular.

Clare Shaw is the author of four poetry collections – Straight Ahead, Head On and Flood. Their fourth collection Towards a General Theory of Love was awarded a Northern Writers' Award and was published by Bloodaxe in May 2022.  In 2021 Clare presented and co-wrote Ways to Weather the Storm on BBC Radio4, examining how creativity and art helped the Hebden Bridge community to live with the impact of repeated flooding.

Watch the film here and below.


[11 October 2022]


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