Mike Di Placido

Mike Di Placido

'And when the moors whip the top of your head off
and you see like a kestrel: what else is there?'

— From ‘Diktat Song’ 


An ex-professional footballer and England Youth International, Mike Di Placido’s debut pamphlet takes its title from his magical trial with Manchester United in the early seventies. His time there is warmly recorded in snapshots of Messrs. Busby, Stiles, Law and, not least, his fourth person of The Trinity, George Best.

After peddling his soccer wares from York City to Australia and New Zealand, Mike returned to study, eventually taking an MA in Poetry while working as a househusband.

Mike lives in Seamer, North Yorkshire, with his wife and two daughters. His latest collection A Sixty-Watt Las Vegas (Valley Press) was published in 2013.

Mike at PoetryPF



'Though Nobby, Denis and Sir Matt make a late appearance, footballing prowess is entirely incidental to the book’s achievement. Theatre of Dreams instead turns on the half-expressed yearnings we all feel (for more contact with nature, for genuine unsullied entertainment and greater meaning in our lives) but struggle to articulate with any vigour.' — James Roderick Burns, Sphinx

'I have re-discovered Mike Di Placido’s Theatre of Dreams, his lovely 2009 pamphlet from Smith/Doorstop Books. Mike covers a range of subjects from George Mallory to Amy Winehouse with great ecomony of style, humour and beauty. I urge you to vist Smith/Doorstop and order a copy.' — Roy Marshall [selected 'A Yorkshire Parable' as his Poem of the Week on 19 June]


'I can't remember when I enjoyed a book of poems so much — possibly [Ted Hughes'] Season Songs.' — Keith Sagar

'A really gorgeous and rewarding collection. I loved it.' — David Morley




The Cliff, Manchester, 1970


Nipping smartly past you
I was soon flat on my arse:
Can’t get away with that ’ere son! 

Then after you’d been struck on the head
by a Charlton thunderbolt – a worried Bobby
helping you up – your brilliant simile:

like a fucking bread pudding that bastard!

And later still, when playing out your career
with Middlesborough Reserves, I zipped past you again
one freezing, flood-lit night and scored: honours even. 

Not that it mattered.
I mean, three years earlier,
you’d left your mark on me forever. 

— From Theatre of Dreams



Mike on his work

I’ve always loved writing, from primary school onwards — composition/essays — but the nascent poet in me was somewhat crushed at secondary school. However, I did discover Shakespeare there, but it wasn’t until my early forties that I seriously had a bash at writing poetry when I took my first degree.  One of my first poems was about a graveyard. I still rather like graveyards, but draw the line at picnics!


Which are your favourite poets and poems? 

Here we go! Who to leave in, who to leave out! Dylan Thomas, Shakespeare and Ted  Hughes, formatively; then Blake, Murray, Thom Gunn, Elizabeth Bishop, Frank O’Hara, Seamus Heaney, Armitage and August Kleinzahler – but there are so many and not all big names, just that these were the ones holding the torch as it were…

I’ve always been blown away by Bishop’s description of the damp ceiling, in her home on the mountain, as ‘the mildew’s ignorant map’ – she just nails stuff in one which I absolutely love.

There’s a Dylan Thomas quote that I’m going to have carved on a plaque and nailed to the entrance of my shed: ‘my shelter from the bullies and the wind.’ How cool is that? Even though I’ve forgotten where it’s from!  Actually, it was another Thomas piece, that really stirred my interest in writing poems, from a prose collection entitled, ‘Quite Early One Morning’.  In the title essay, Thomas describes the chapel with its ‘long cold eye’ which he leaves ‘telling the morning off’ as ‘the seagull hung rebuked above it’.  Magic.


Where do you mostly write?  What do you do instead of writing?

Good question. Actually, I’ve been trying to figure this out for about twenty years. I write anywhere that a thought/image/phrase occurs which needs to be recorded. My pockets are stuffed with fragments of poems and changing jackets can be traumatic – like switching filing cabinets on the hoof – problematic! However, the actual hammering out of poems in my painfully slow, one-fingered way, takes place in a poky back passage-cum-office in our tiny cottage, which horrifies my wife, although, as I keep telling her, if she thinks this is untidy she should see a picture of Francis Bacon’s studio. There again, he was a genius and brought in a fortune…

I like to walk and sing when no one’s around and have become a Lionel Messi groupie – though the red blood of Man Utd shall forever course through my veins. I love reading but have accepted that I may never actually finish a novel. I left ‘Moby Dick’ halfway through and I was loving that.

Oh, yes: I also love watching music documenataries and sitting in my shed. Actually, in another dimension I am a musician – and I guess, all my life, I’ve been influenced, very powerfully, by music and musicians in all sorts of un-academically, un-explainable ways. I love art, too. But it’s too late to catch up with Picasso now.


How did you put Theatre of Dreams together? Or how did you come to write or revise it?

The collection, that eventually morphed into Theatre of Dreams, was short-listed for the 2005 Poetry Business Book and Pamphlet Competition. I wanted to include the four Theatre of Dreams poems – having just finished them – but had no space left and didn’t know how to squeeze them in! Unfortunately, I am of the Fred Flintstone school of personal computing, I’m afraid.  Actually, and seriously, the writing of the football poems was incredibly cathartic, dealing, as they do, with a major event in my life. I’ll always be grateful to Michael McCarthy and Carole Bromley, who were the first to hear them and give them an affirming nod, at Carole’s house in York. 


What are you currently working on?

My current ‘works in progress’ are numerous: a first, full collection of poetry; a book on Ted Hughes, provisionally entitled, ‘Crow-Flight Across The Sun: a personal tribute in prose and verse’; a collection of poems about my home town of Scarborough, entitled: ‘A Sixty-Watt Las Vegas’; and lastly, a verse play, centered around the Dragon of Old Norse and Germanic legend and literature, entitled, ‘Delivering The Dragon-Stone.’

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