Clare Shaw on BBC Radio 3 & Radio 4

Clare Shaw on BBC Radio 3 & Radio 4

'Caught directly in the deluge’s rising tide, Shaw is a witness who gives incantatory evidence of poetry’s power to define, rather than simply describe, the existential pain of being caught helpless in maelstroms both external and psychological.' - Steve Whitaker, The Yorkshire Times

The territory of Clare Shaw’s third collection wasn’t one Clare chose, but one which chose Clare: the flooded valley and the ruined home. The 2015 floods in Britain left whole swathes of the country submerged, including their home town of Todmorden. Flood offers an eye-witness account of those events, from rainfall to rescue, 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.

Two poems from Flood are featured on the Bookanista website here.  An in-depth review is online at The Yorkshire Times here

Clare Shaw's fourth collection Towards a General Theory of Love was published by Bloodaxe in May 2022. The poems in this colleciton show that poetry can say as much as about who we are – and especially how we feel – as psychology. They also feed each other. Harry Harlow’s famous experiments on baby monkeys changed the course of psychology. They proved that we need care, contact and love – and they inflicted profound and lasting suffering on their subjects. These poems are driven by the same furious need to understand the experience of love and its absence. Harlow’s findings, attachment theory, mythology and art are set alongside stories of attraction, grief and desire. 

Towards a General Theory of Love won a Northern Writers Award for work in progress. An in-depth review featured in The Friday Poem on 23 August 2022, available to read online here.



Northern Drift, BBC Radio 3, Monday 21 February 2022, 9.30 pm

Clare Shaw was a guest on BBC Radio 3’s Northern Drift with Elizabeth Alker on 21 February. Recorded in front of an audience at the Trades Club in Hebden Bridge, where Clare lives. With music from Robin Richards, who was also interviewed.

Clare read ‘Roads and paths covered; flash flooding on steeper slopes’ from Flood, plus two poems from Towards a General Theory of Love: ‘Total Social Isolation in Monkeys’ and ‘If Love is snow’.

‘Poet Clare Shaw and composer and multi-instrumentalist Robin Richards from the band Dutch Uncles, join Elizabeth Alker at the Trades Club in Hebden Bridge.’

No longer available, but details here.



Raging: United Kingdoms, BBC Radio 4, Monday 17 January 2022, 2.15pm

Burnley, poet Clare Shaw’s very powerful first radio drama, was broadcast on 17 January on BBC Radio 4 as part of a five-part series, with each programme featuring five short dramas about life across the United Kingdom. Burnley was performed by Clare Shaw and Rachel Austin as part of episode 3, Raging.

‘A groundbreaking five part series celebrating and revealing life across the United Kingdoms in short, sharp dramas from exciting new writers.  This ambitious State of the Nations series about life outside London offers the audience a myriad of images through drama, comedy, interviews, song and poetic monologue. These are the stories, the lives and the voices we don't often hear.  The dramas are being made by production teams from Northern Ireland, Southern England, Scotland, Northern England and Wales. Each episode features five short dramas by different writers, bringing together a total of 50 writers and 100 actors…. Burnley: A woman, a Lancashire river and a rage that conquers everything.’

Burnley features from 27:57.  Listen here.



Planet Poetry podcast: Climate | Weather | Rain Landscape and Language, Thursday 5 November 2020

Clare Shaw was interviewed for the second episode of the Planet Poetry podcast. She was in conversation with poet Robin Houghton, who then went on to discuss the book with her co-presenter Peter Kenny.

Clare read her poems ‘And still I don’t know’, ‘Instructions for coping in terrible times’ and finally her ‘really moving’ poem ‘Open Door Policy’ – all from her third collection Flood.  She spoke about the devastating floods in Hebden Bridge in 2013 and 2015 that informed the collection. The book is also the story of a relationship from the beginning to its end, and the story of how we can survive and come back from disaster.

She also mentioned her forthcoming fourth collection Towards a General Theory of Love, which is due from Bloodaxe in May  2022, and which won a Northern Writers Award.

The podcast began with Peter Kenny reading Edward Thomas’s poem ‘Rain’ – which is included in Edna Longley’s Edward Thomas: The Annotated Collected Poems, which was published by Bloodaxe in 2008.

The first episode of the Planet Poetry podcast featured an interview with Pascale Petit.

Listen to the podcast here.  Interview with Clare Shaw from 05:56.

The Verb: Landscape and Language, Friday 2 October 2020, 10pm

Clare Shaw was a wonderfully entertaining guest on The Verb on 2 October. This was one of the programmes recorded in front of an audience at the BBC Contains Strong Language festival in Cumbria. Clare was reading from her third collection Flood, her first-hand account of the devastating floods of 2015.

Clare read and talked about her poems ‘Teaching Your Daughter to Swim’ and ‘Catastrophic devastation; damage complete.’  She spoke about wild swimming, the 2015 floods in Hebden Bridge and Todmorden, and about finding a safe haven in that community.

‘This year the Contains Strong Language Festival of poetry and spoken word goes to Cumbria, as part of the programme of events marking the 250th anniversary of William Wordsworth's birth. This week's Verb was recorded at the Forum Theatre in Barrow-in-Furness, with a small, but enthusiastic socially distanced audience. Our theme is the meeting of language and landscape, and Ian's guests are the poet Clare Shaw whose 2018 collection Flood conveys water at its most awesome and destructive, writer and playwright Zosia Wand, who uses the shifting sands of Morecambe Bay as her stage in work that examines how we find identity amidst unreliable memories and family secrets. National Youth Slam Poetry Champion Matt Sowerby is one of the poets commissioned by the Contains Strong Language Festival to write a poem in response to Ruskin's View, alongside Karen Lloyd, who also reads from her work in progress book of essays on the importance of telling hopeful stories and truly paying attention to the natural world.’

Clare Shaw is interviewed first, and then again at 30:36. Listen here.

Hebden Bridge Film Festival, 20-21 March 2021 – film of a new poem by Clare Shaw

Clare was commissioned to write a poem for Hebden Bridge film festival. Her poem ‘The Picture House’ was made into a short film performed by Maxine Peake, who is the patron of the festival.

Maxine Peake recites 'The Picture House' - a poem by Clare Shaw celebrating the beautiful and historic Hebden Bridge Picture House.



Ways to Weather the Storm, BBC Radio 4, Sunday 21 March 2021, 4.30pm (repeated Saturday 27 March, 11.30pm)

Clare Shaw presented a half-hour feature for BBC Radio 4 on 21 March.  Her 2018 third collection Flood was her personal account of the devastating floods in the Calder Valley in  2015.  The programme draws on and refers to her collection, as well as work by other poets, artists, musicians and historians.

‘In the flood-prone landscape of the Calder Valley, poet Clare Shaw asks what it means to live with the inevitability of severe flooding, and why this part of England continues to be loved by its communities - in particular by its many resident artists who are inspired by this watery, often bleak surrounding. Recorded entirely on location on the steep-sided valleys and wind-swept tops of Calderdale, Clare discusses the pull and the perils of living here, and what this landscape and its communities can teach us about living with disaster of the most elemental kind…. We hear too from Clare's own collection Flood: a poetic exploration not just of flooding, but also of flood as metaphor in her own life, from breakdown to her mother's death, to the end of a failing relationship. We shape our own world - through stories and music and art and through everyday acts of kindness and resilience.’

The programme ended with Clare reading her poem ‘Flood as Redemption’ from her her Bloodaxe collection Flood.

Details here.  No longer available on BBC Sounds.  The programme was a radio highlight in Sunday Times’s Culture magazine on 21 March. See here.

[19 August 2019]

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