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, their celebration of sound, rhythm and imagery. These are poems which 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.
Clare Shaw was born in Burnley in 1972. Their first two collections with Bloodaxe were Straight Ahead (2006), which attracted a Forward Prize Highly Commended for Best Single Poem, and Head On (2012), which according to the Times Literary Supplement is 'fierce, memorable and visceral'. Their later collections are Flood (2018), a New Writing North Read Regional title in 2019, and Towards a General Theory of Love (2022) which won a Northern Writers' Award and was a Poetry Society Book of the Year.