Poet in Residence

From time to time a poet is in residence at the Poetry Archive, talking about poetry with anyone who wants to join in the conversation. You are welcome to explore our archive of past residencies and read some of the lively and varied discussions you'll find there.

Ian McMillan

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...

The shushing spokesman

Ian McMillan - 15 November 2010

It's funny how computers can redraft your poems for you, too. In my last post (odd phrase, that) I wrote part of the first draft of a piece called Friday Sounds, Wombwell, and the word scutch got rewritten as scotch, which gave the line an extra dimension. The word scutch is an old Yorkshire word for a smack, although actually it's one of those words that is more or less untranslateable. A scutch is more of a playful slap, a slap with a smile on its face, if there can be such a thing.

Monumental Sound

Ian McMillan - 26 October 2010

Another Place is Gormley's title for his series of figures that look out across the estuary waters, and which, since they were put there in 2006, have become amazingly popular with locals and visitors.


Ian McMillan - 7 October 2010

Later in the morning, my wife and I are going to the Sculpture Park, just a few miles from here at Bretton Hall. It's a gorgeous morning (because it's National Poetry Day!) and there's a David Nash exhibition on, and he does amazingly poetic things with wood.
I tie my boots up, and as I tie them tight I can't resist twanging them like guitar strings. Sound, you see: everywhere.

Pure joyous noise

Ian McMillan - 28 September 2010

I've become a little obsessed with music and words these last few years, partly because words and music have been a staple of my Radio 3 show The Verb for a while and partly because it's a combination of art forms that really intrigues me; somehow the musicality of the one brings out the rhythm of the other. I love having to write words that I know will have to fit exactly within a row of notes, and it's great speaking your words with music; it makes you feel like a proper bard, or a troubadour. Even in some ways a singer songwriter. Except I don't sing; although in some places I do.

First Blog

Ian McMillan - 14 September 2010

Because this is The Poetry Archive, I want to think a lot about sound in this blog. Sound is of course one of the places where poetry begins: not just the sound of language but the sounds we hear every day, the ones that ebb and flow around us as we make our way through the hours. I was recently lucky enough to record an edition of Desert Island Discs and my eighth record was John Cage's (in)famous 4'33", the silent piece. We didn't play it all, of course! The odd thing was that the disc (yes, there is one!) wasn't silent at all.

Glossary term


The part of a poem or other work of art which makes the reader or audience feel sorrow or pity.

A tour of the Archive with Connie Ruzich

As a university teacher who lives in an inland city surrounded by mountains, streams, and rivers, I sometimes have a...

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