Clare Shaw at Kendal Poetry Festival


When we applied for Arts Council funding last year, our venue, the Abbot Hall Art Gallery had a small cafe on site.  However, Kendal  suffered terribly in the floods, and the cafe at Abbot Hall is now unusable.  Pauline and I have been working hard to research alternative arrangements for food and Blackwells have come to our rescue, offering to deliver freshly-baked cakes and tray bakes for visitors to the festival over the weekend.  We will also have a tea and coffee urn on site, staffed by some enthusiastic and willing volunteers.  The venue is very close to the town centre, with plenty of restaurants and cafes within walking distance.

As part of the run up to the festival, we will be featuring poems from the poets that are appearing at the festival at regular intervals on this blog.  Our first poet on the blog is the wonderful Clare Shaw, who will be reading at the festival with Hilda Sheehan on Saturday 25th June at our 2pm Main Reading.

One of the most enjoyable experiences of putting together a poetry festival was deciding which poets we would like to make up our ‘dream team’ for this first festival.  Clare Shaw, described by the Arvon Foundation as ‘one of Britain’s most dynamic and powerful young poets’ was high up on both of our lists as someone we had to invite.

Clare is currently working on a new collection, and has generously allowed us to pick a new poem to feature on our blog this week.  As flooding has been at the forefront of our minds in the last week as we chased down alternative catering arrangements for the festival, we decided to choose a poem from a sequence that Clare is working on called ‘Measures of Impact’ which explores the impact of flooding.  Living in Hebden Bridge has meant that Clare has had terrible floods of her own to deal with.

We think this is a wonderful poem, conjuring up both the anger and the weariness felt by having to deal with flooding over and over again in the last couple of years through its use of repetition and the litany of the names of rivers.  Anybody that saw footage of the floods and the people affected by them will know exactly what that line means ‘Enough of friends with shut-down faces’.   Apart from anger and weariness, the poem also illustrates perfectly that feeling of waiting and watching to see if more rain was going to fall.

Clare says

“Living in an area that has flooded repeatedly and disastrously means that floods have entered my consciousness – and my poetry. Its hard to imagine the damage that floods inflict – and they function as a powerful metaphors for personal trauma.   “Measures of Impact” is a sequence of poems based on meteorological scales – such as the Beaufort and Mercalli – which measure natural phenomena according to the impact they have on people and the natural and built environment.  It follows the interwoven narrative of two catastrophes – a flood, and the end of a relationship”

 “Measures of Impact” by Clare Shaw

  1. Catastrophic devastation; damage complete.

Enough of rapid water.
Enough of the current and roar.
Enough of the anger. Enough of the Calder.
Enough of the Eden and Lune and the Cocker,
the Aire and the Derwent, the Ribble and Greta.
Enough of the Don and the Dee and the Culter.

Enough of the waiting. Enough of the checking.
Enough of waking up each night to listen
to rain, the rhythm of rain on the roof.
Enough of the grief, of packing your stuff.
Enough of slipping and losing
your footing; of trying to stand up

again. Enough of being wet, of water.
Enough of tap and bath and shower;
enough of gentle rain on flowers.
Enough of love and where it takes us –
ruined places. Enough of broken shops
and homes. Enough of dreams. Enough of plans.

Enough of made-up words for weather.
Enough of words that did not save us.
Enough of friends with shut-down faces.
Enough of toppled trees, uprooted;
enough of major structures shifted,
enough of wood and concrete lifted,

enough of nothing left
to lift, enough of nothing left.
Enough of loss. Enough of luck.
Enough of Whalley, Keswick, York.
Enough of what will not come back.
Enough of what we could not change.

Enough of grief and anger, love –
enough. Enough of rain.




5 comments on “Clare Shaw at Kendal Poetry Festival

  1. Well, I pressed the ‘follow’ button. And I have no doubts that it works. As does Clare’s poem. Which is wonderful to read aloud while you imagine listening to her reading it aloud.

    1. Thanks John – that’s great! Just need to build up the followers now. I knew you would come to my rescue. I’m quite proud of myself for mastering the vagaries of WordPress.

    1. Hi Rachel – that’s a shame! But will be great to see you on the Sunday. Are you coming in time for Hilda Sheehan’s workshop?

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