Clare Shaw was born in 1972 in Burnley, the youngest of six children, and moved to Liverpool at the age of 18 to study politics. Her years in the city were marked by frequent admissions to psychiatric wards, which motivated her to become involved in working to improve mental health services. In her work, postgraduate study, publications and activism, she has become a recognised voice on women's mental health issues. She lives in West Yorkshire, and works in a self-harm awareness training partnership with her sister. Described by Carol Ann Duffy as "one of the best new young readers on the circuit", Clare is a popular and engaging reader of her own work. She has two collections from 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).