About Ian McMillan

Ian McMillan (b. 1956) is one of the UK's best known contemporary poets. Aside from many books (for adults and children), sometimes including prose and plays, he has also made appearances on television, on all the national BBC radio channels (through which he was recently listed as the 22nd most powerful person in radio), in diverse newspapers and magazines, and as a poet in residence in a wide range of places including Barnsley FC and the Humberside Police. He also maintains a breathtaking schedule of appearances in schools, prisons and arts festivals.

As seasoned a performer as this implies, McMillan fills this reading with warmth and charm, and knows exactly how much information to give in his introductions so the poems are illuminated and not washed out. His public appearances are also used as material for some of the poems here, whether it's the amused biographical note of 'The Soft White Pillowcase Boys' or the reductio ad absurdum of poetic prejudice in 'For Me'.

Still resident in South Yorkshire, McMillan is also proud of his northern heritage, as well as refusing to let go of what the Radio Times called his "fruity Barnsley accent". He cites a "great line of Ted Hughes's where he says 'Calderdale's my tuning fork'; well, Darfield's my tuning fork." Poems such as 'The Meaning of Life' - subtitled "A Yorkshire Dialect Rhapsody" - show his ear for the natural patterns of northern speech and, at the same time, a refusal to be precious about it. He also gives witness to the decline of the mining industry in this area, avoiding the pitfalls of artless diatribe and appropriation of pain.

He is one of the few poets able to remain completely accessible while exploring techniques such as surrealism and postmodernism: the latter can be seen in the collision of genres and irreverent allusions in 'Ted Hughes is Elvis Presley', and the former in the non-sequiturs of 'The Meaning of Life' and the cutup practice of 'The Texas Swing Boys' Dadaist Manifesto'. This same ability to embrace his audience and literature is to be found in McMillan's devotion of his Radio 3 show, The Verb, to "the magic of discovery, the excitement of living language, stories, songs, the continuum of audience and writer and reader."

His recording was made on 12 January 2005 at the Audio Workshop, London and was produced by Richard Carrington.

Additional material and useful links

BBC Poetry Season - McMillan

Visit the BBC site to see Ian McMillan's tips on why poems are perfect for chronicling big events and marking special occasions.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/poetryseason/discover.shtml

Selected bibliography

Six, Rivelin Grapheme 1985

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Talking Myself Home, John Murray 2008

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It's Just Like Watching Brazil: A Premiership Season in...

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Selected Poems, Carcanet 1987

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Dad, the Donkey's on Fire, Carcanet 1994

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I Found This Shirt, Carcanet 1998

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The Very Best of Ian McMillan, Macmillan Children's...

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The Invisible Villain, Macmillan Children's Books 2002

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Perfect Catch: Poems, Collaborations and Scripts,...

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Recordings

Ian McMillan

Ian McMillan Reading from His Poems

1The Soft White Pillowcase Boys

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2Pushed Home when the Clouds were still Raw

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3From the Section Dealing with the Loss of Grace

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4The Tennis Ball Factory Poems

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5The Meaning of Life

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6SF Novel

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7What Really Happened To The Buffalo

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8For Me

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9Why Are You Ringing

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10Two Miners Pass in Opposite Directions at Daybreak

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11The Texas Swing Boys' Dadaist Manifesto

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12Resident

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13Sessions

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14Pushing, May 1984

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15Coalpicking, Broomhill

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16Visitors, Armthorpe August 1984

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17Propp's Last Case

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18Action

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19From an Evening with the Model of "The Venus and the Shaving Brushes"

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20Move

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21The Photographer's Subject

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22Just the Facts, Just the

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23Simple Story

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24Man in Hotel Room with Stolen Fork

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25Against Realism

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26Some Poetry Presses I Will Certainly Set Up In The Next Three Weeks

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27Landing Practice

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28The Prince of Wales visits Alnwick

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29Cracking Icicles in Totley Tunnel

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31Kake Yourself Comfortable

32Why We Need Libraries

33Pit Closure as Art

34Lilian's Poem

35Husband and Wife

36Tempest Avenue

37Deaths from Ice-Cream

38Ted Hughes is Elvis Presley

39Visit

40Poem Occasioned by the High Incidence of Suicide amongst the Unemployed

41Song for Roof Building (Collected in South Yorkshire Light Industry Park, Barnsley)

42Moon River: Lives of the Great Comedians

43Henry's Skeleton, George's Leg

44Jesus Died from Eating Curtains

45Stone, I Presume

46Still Life Life

47Realism (Nothing Is Ever Finished)

48Dad, the Donkey's On Fire

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Books by Ian McMillan