The territory of Clare Shaw’s third collection isn’t one she chose herself, but one which chose her: the flooded valley and the ruined home. The 2015 floods in Britain left whole swathes of the country submerged, including her home town. 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.
Testifying equally to the forces that destroy us and save us, flood runs through the book in different forms – bereavement and trauma, the Savile scandal, life in an asylum. Yet 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.
'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 in The Yorkshire Times
‘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 [on Clare Shaw's debut collection Straight Ahead]
‘Hold your breath when you read Clare Shaw’s poems. Startling, searing, scorching, this is an emotional blast of a book’ – Jackie Kay [on Straight Ahead]
‘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 involvement.' – James Caruth, The North