Julie Mellor

Julie Mellor lives near Sheffield with her partner and her most treasured possession: her dog.

After doing various jobs, including working in a shoe shop on London’s Oxford Street, and as an au pair in Sicily, she gained a degree in English at the University of Huddersfield. She went on to do an MA in Writing at Sheffield Hallam, followed by a PhD, which she completed in 2003.

Her poems have appeared in magazines and anthologies including Ambit, Brittle Star, Mslexia, The Rialto and Smiths Knoll. The poem, 'What I Know', from which the title of her pamphlet, Breathing Through Our Bones, was taken, was a runner up in The Elmet Open Poetry competition, and voted best Yorkshire entry.

Julie won the 2012 Barnet Open Poetry Competition, judged by Martyn Crucefix, and was awarded 'Best Yorkshire Poem' in the 2012 York Open Poetry Competition. In 2014 she was runner up in the Brittle Star poetry competition judged by Mimi Khalvati.

Breathing Through Our Bones was a winner in the 2011 Book & Pamphlet Competition, chosen by Carol Ann Duffy.

 Julie is the judge of this year’s Red Shed Open Poetry Competition. She blogs at  http://juliemellorpoetsite.wordpress.com


'Poems with a real ability to own their subject- whether spontaneous combustion or the collective thought of geese- and which remain to intrigue long after reading.' — Carol Ann Duffy

'The gradual, incremental evocation of place is something of a speciality in Julie Mellor’s poems.  ‘Distances’, for example, greets the reader plainly enough with the unadorned ...  ‘If there’s a towpath, we follow it,’ (so far, so straightforward) & then goes on ... ‘measure the distance by counting locks.’  Which sort of slows us down a tiny bit – with that sense of studied calibration, implying a not entirely carefree stroll.  Next ...‘We like the straight and narrow,’ which introduces another hint of restriction, even discipline.  A little later we learn ... ‘Here on the canal, the slow ripple / of ducks, the slow ripple of air // as people wave off hired barges. / We never answer.’  The air is not – as we might anticipate – light & airy, but slow and liquid, & the people who wave go unanswered.  The whole thing has a kind of unsettling, dream-like feel to it.  ‘Each bridge’, we’re told, ‘is a bleak stone rainbow / and when the water is calm, / it mirrors the arch // to a circle, a giant gun barrel ...’ Such grim, sinister imagery for such an innocuous pastime.  And note, in passing, how those quietly clever internal rhymes – ‘bridge’ / ‘arch’ & ‘circle’ / ‘barrel’ – tie the lines together.  There’s nothing light-hearted & untroubled about this walk along the towpath, even if on the surface that’s how it appears; rather there’s a brooding, ominous note sounding underneath everything.  Again & again, it’s this quality that keeps the poems singing long after they’ve ended.' — C.J. Allen, Litter


'Mellor’s visualisation is particularly acute (though both are inventively figurative), sometime wry orplayful: ghosts ‘listen to music on their iPods’ (‘Ghosts’) or the broom whose witch ‘fitted it with flashy wing mirrors/and rode it to a mod rally in Skegness.’ (‘Broom’) But she can be dark and disturbing. ‘Blackberries’, for example, is written from the viewpoint of the fruit, which we might immediately dismiss simply as an exercise. But this fruit is corrupt, rife with nasty mystery, describing itself in imagery so intensely malevolent, we feel it is an image of some much wider evil ... But her work does not set out simply to shock nor offer cheap thrills nor is it the automated strange-making of Martianism. Each piece latches onto something core in her subject, bringing it forward to make more of it than we would ordinarily see. Many of these poems are not in the business of making strange, but of revealing the strange that already sits there in the everyday.' — Noel Williams, Orbis

Breathing Through Our Bones


The roots of lycopsid trees have the span

of a giant squid; their bark is patterned

like the skin of a pineapple or a globe artichoke.

Ex-mining towns rest on their fossilized remains.


Beneath the tangled gardens of West Street,

with stained mattresses slumped against privet,

heaped remains of old bathrooms, carcasses

of kitchens, beneath mossed patches that might be lawns,


deep down in the seams of the earth, the wings

of the first dragonflies, the flattened shells of crabs,

lie imprinted in coal, along with the thigh bones

of tyrannosaurus rex, which hold evidence


of air sacs, the pneumatisation that enables

birds to fly. Here in these towns where everyone

is someone’s cousin twice removed,

we are all breathing through our bones.



Titles by this author

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