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‘You took the words right out my mouth’

Next week we will be welcoming the 11th Digital Poet in Residence to the CAMPUS community. Please give a warm welcome to Clare Shaw – poet, Poetry School tutor, mental health researcher and trainer.

In this residency – ‘You took the words right out my mouth’ – Clare will explore the practice of ventriloquism in poetry. She’ll argue the case for the tradition of poets giving “voice to the voiceless”; and will also critically interrogate the ethical and practical dilemmas this can raise when we, as poets, impose our voices on other subjects. She’ll have the opportunity to explore these issues in a Q&A session with Choman Hardi. Choman engages directly with the ethical and personal costs of speaking on behalf of the silenced in a sequence of rending poems spoken in the voices of survivors of the genocide of the Kurdish under Saddam Hussein in her new collection, “Considering the Women”.  Throughout the month, Clare will also set practical exercises, inviting feedback, and exploring ways we can individually empower ourselves to ‘have our say’.

At the centre of Clare’s residency is the Lancashire County Lunatic Asylum, Rainhill Mental Hospital, which closed in 1991. Just before its closure, The Documentary Photography Archive commissioned photographer Tom Woods to take a series of photographs of patients in those closing days (which only now are being exhibited and published in full); this project has sparked a critical passion in Clare, who as well as being commissioned to write a series of poems based on the pictures, many of which are ventriloquised – or spoken in the voice of the subjects in the photos – also inspired her to teach a Poetry School course entitled ‘Instructions for Throwing Your Voice’.

The vocal warm-ups start next week, Monday 9 November 2015. Come join the choir…








Clare Shaw has two poetry collections with Bloodaxe, Straight Ahead (2006), which was shortlisted for the Glen Dimplex New Writers’ Award for Poetry, and attracted a Forward Prize Highly Commended for Best Single Poem, and Head On (2012). She is the Royal Literary Fellow at the University of Huddersfield, and works a tutor with the Arvon Foundation, the National Writer’s Centre of Wales, the Wordsworth Trust, and the Poetry School, Manchester. Clare is also a mental health researcher and trainer, with a specialism in self-injury and associated issues and has published and edited non-fiction books, chapters and articles in this field.




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Image Credits:

Image: ‘Taste Bud Regrowth’

Image credit: Eugenia Loli