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Clare Shaw: Flood

The title of Flood is very straightforward – it offers an eyewitness account of the floods of  2013 and 2015 that devastated large areas of the UK, including my hometown of Hebden Bridge. Throughout the collection, flood also acts as a metaphor for other powerfully destructive experiences – the Jimmy Savile story, breakdown, hospitalisation, bereavement, the end of a relationship, trauma. It’s not all about destruction though – as much as Flood describes how destructive experiences can hurt us, it also expresses how we survive them as individuals and communities; how we support each other to recover and rebuild.

This collection is a long love letter to the Calder Valley. Starting with my Burnley childhood, it tells the story of how I finally  found my family and community in Todmorden and Hebden Bridge: it delights in the urban and rural landscapes of West Yorkshire. Referencing other flooded areas of the UK, it celebrates the landscapes I love, like Cumbria. And it’s a love letter to ‘my people’ – the people who sustained me – my daughter, my community and my friends. And beyond that, the people through whom the most difficult narratives played out: my mother; the relationship I fought and failed to save; long-term patients in a 1990s psychiatric hospital.

Clare Shaw was born in Burnley. She 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. She is a Royal Literary Fellow, and a regular tutor for the Writing Project, the Poetry School, the Wordsworth Trust and the Arvon Foundation. She also works as a mental health trainer and consultant.


Cheadle Library,
23 Ashfield Rd, Cheadle, Stockport SK8 1BB
Thursday 28 March, 7.30pm (Exploring Poetry workshop at 6.30pm)

Morpeth Chantry,
Northern Poetry Library, 67A Bridge St, Morpeth, NE61 1PQ
Thursday 4 April, 7.15pm (Exploring Poetry workshop at 6.15pm)

Cleckheaton Library,
Whitcliffe Rd, Cleckheaton, BD19 3DX
Thursday 11 April, 6pm

Hebden Bridge Library,
Cheetham St, Hebden Bridge, HX7 8EP
Thursday 25 April, 8pm (Exploring Poetry workshop at 7pm)

Hull Central Library,
Albion St, Hull, HU1 3TF
Saturday 27 April, 2.30pm (Exploring Poetry workshop at 1.30pm)
(Joint event with John Challis)

Wakefield Library,
Burton St, Wakefield, WF1 2EB
Monday 29 April, 12pm – 2pm
(Writing workshop included in event)

Radcliffe Library,
Stand Ln, Radcliffe, Manchester, M26 1JA
Friday 10 May, 3pm (Exploring Poetry workshop at 2pm)

Beverley Library,
Champney Rd, Beverley, HU17 8HE
Saturday 11 May, 3pm (Exploring Poetry workshop at 2pm)

The Word Library,
Market Place, South Shields, NE33 1JF
Friday 17 May, 11am (Exploring Poetry workshop at 10am)

Crown Street Library,
Darlington, DL1 1ND
Wednesday 5 June, 2.30pm (Exploring Poetry workshop at 1.30pm)
(Joint event with John Challis)

Morley Library,
Commercial St, Morley, Leeds, LS27 8HZ
Thursday 6 June, 2pm – 4pm  (Exploring Poetry workshop at 2pm)

Liverpool Central Library,
William Brown St, Liverpool L3 8EW
Thursday 13 June, 6pm – 7.30pm

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