Burnley poet's inspiring words for international coronavirus poetry project

A Burnley poet has lent her words to an international poetry project, devised by the former Poet Laureate.

Burnley-born Clare Shaw has contributed three poems to the WRITE where we are NOW, a new international poetry project responding to the coronavirus pandemic, instigated by former poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy who is now the creative director at the Manchester Writing School, Manchester Metropolitan University.

Each work reflects on the writer’s own personal experiences of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak from all over the world, supporting readers in reflecting on and articulating their own feelings through the power of poetry.

Two of Clare's poems in the project feature her home town, "The William Thompson Recreation Centre, Burnley" and "From A Line By Adrian Salmon".

Clare Shaw

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Her third poem for the project is entitled "What did you do in the war: a poem for the retail and distribution workers".

You’re essential.

You’re the meals on the table, you

are fuel. You’re a stocked shelf; you are

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good company. You’re on your feet, on the job, night

shift, on our behalf. You’re exhausted. You’re a cause

for celebration, a round of applause every day. You’re a

song, you’re at risk for our safety. You are not a cause for

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complaint. You’re NOT to be spat at or coughed on or hit -

you’re a lifeline, a chat, you are kindness. You are lights

through an open door. You’re not the distance you

keep, you are close. You’re chocolate at Easter,

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a gift. Not to be taken for granted – you’re

vulnerable, you are cared about. You

are keeping the country going, you

are keeping the country fed.

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And you’re going to be

remembered for

what you

did

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Clare, who now lives in Hebden Bridge, works with the Royal Literary Fund and the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers to establish writing projects in workplaces across the UK.