Ian McMillan

Ian McMillan is a poet, journalist, playwright and broadcaster. He has had several volumes of poetry published for both adults and children, and is an enthusiastic advocate of poetry.

In addition he has had journalism published in Q magazine and Mojo magazine, and writes a weekly column in his home town's local newspaper, The Barnsley Chronicle. He has the unique honour of being the first poet in residence to a football club, his hometown Barnsley FC.

Ian's first Smith/Doorstop pamphlet, Tall in the Sandle, was published in 1986 — the company's first year of business; and his second was This Lake Used to be Frozen: Lamps in 2011, the Poetry Business' 25th anniversary year. His third Smith/Doorstop pamphlet is Ah've Soiled Ma Breeks (September 2012).


'world-class – one of today’s greatest poetry performers' — Carol Ann Duffy

'Ian McMillan’s take on his surroundings in This Lake Used to be Frozen: Lamps is simultaneously comical, colloquial, and deeply imaginative – with a healthy dose of the surreal thrown in for good measure... It is these moments of delight in the ridiculously un-exalted that make this pamphlet so engaging and continuously surprising. So much so that it is a struggle to put down This Lake Used to be Frozen: Lamps, and go back to a world where ‘Ian McMillanish Things’ seem to happen far less often.— The Stand

'By contrast, the poems in another Smith/Doorstop collection, Ian McMillan’s This Lake Used To Be Frozen: Lamps, often read, even at their very most serious, like very good jokes. Gag and tragedy go hand-in-hand in “Not a Real Bear, But a Bear Nevertheless” where the backstage wisecracks of Shakespeare’s human stand-in are silenced by the bloated corpse of the real bear “floating down towards the sea. The real sea. The sea.”' — The TLS

Excerpt from Ian's Smith/Doorstop audio recording



Ian mesmerises students to make them create a mini opera...





We are both waiting and he comes over to me,
His cap is dark. I found my dad

He says, as though he knows me. Good I say,
That’s good.
 His cap, his cap is dark.

At stair bottom Ian. He’d hung hissen.
His cap, his cap, his cap is dark.

He must have been low, Ian, to do that
Does tha think?
 His cap, his cap, his cap, his

Cap is dark. I allus get a return ticket,
Just in case.
 His cap, his cap, his cap, his cap

You know the rest


— From This Lake Used to be Frozen: Lamps (2011)



'News from my Fold-up Table'

This is where I write, in the back room of my house in Darfield, the same house I’ve lived in for over twenty-five years. I used to write at the dining table, the table that used to be my mother’s, but when we got a new one I found that it was just a bit too high and it made my shoulders ache, so now I sit and write at a little white fold-up table.

I’m a writer because of many things, I guess: my Great Aunt Bella Howatson was a Scottish Victorian rhyming balladeer and she used to write rhyming letters to my dad; my dad and mam were penpals in the Second World War, him in the Royal Navy, her in the WAAFs and because they met through writing maybe that’s another reason for writing being important to me; I was lucky enough to go to a West Rising County Primary School in the 1960s…the West Riding was a marvellous Education Authority run by the godlike genius Alec Clegg, who said that all children are creative, so we wrote a poem at the end of every lesson until it became as natural as breathing; I had a great teacher at Wath Grammar School called Mr. Brown who got me to carry on writing and improving my poems until they were good enough to put in the school magazine.

I write all the time on this little fold-up table; for the last few years I’ve been writing plays and scripts and words for music but suddenly, over the last few months, the poems are coming again, and I’m as grateful as heck.

— Ian McMillan, October 2011

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