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Charmed Lives: charmed as in surviving, as in getting away with it, as in possessed, as in fortunate. The lives and moments in these poems are about being vulnerable, getting by and sometimes being at one with the world. This visually evocative and grounded writing is able to cross and re-cross the divide between the familiar and the strange.
‘Mike Barlow’s poems all grapple in the end with the question of ‘real life’ – what it is, and what lies outside it.’ — Sarah Crown, The Guardian
‘There is something slightly breathtaking about a lot of Barlow’s work’ — Alan Dent, Penniless Press
‘He takes a slice of life and stares hard at the layers. And this is no mean feat – there are some enviable moments of bravura descriptive writing...’ — Clive Allen, Exultations and Difficulties.
'Instead of relying on surface effects, Barlow’s work catches the attention firstly through skilful choice of apt yet surprising words and images and secondly because of his knack of finding subject matter which can engage, intrigue and startle his readers. He sometimes writes movingly and with a fresh eye about quite ordinary situations; but elsewhere he draws us into imagined worlds which are not so far from the real one and yet where no point of reference can truly be relied upon.' — Thomas Ovans, London Grip
Mike Barlow's first collection, Living on the Difference, won the 2003 Book & Pamphlet Competition, judged by Gillian Clarke, and was shortlisted for the Jerwood Aldeburgh Prize. His poems have also won the National Poetry Competition and the Ledbury and Amnesty International competitions. Mike is a visual artist as well as a poet, making drawings, paintings and assemblages of found materials.
He lives near Lancaster.