People Powered Press, Leeds. Credit: Fiona Delaloye

Ian McMillan: The story so farÖ

I was born in 1956 in the village near Barnsley where I still live; I wanted to be a writer all the way through my schooldays, but I wasnít sure how to go about it. All the books I got out of the library were written by people who lived in Surrey, not the Yorkshire Coalfield.  

So as a teenager I wrote all the time without ever working out how to make a living from it; at the same time I discovered a love of standing up (or sitting down: I was drummer in Barnsleyís first folk-rock band Oscar The Frog) in public. After Oscar the Frog, me and my mate Martyn Wiley  formed Jaws, Barnsleyís first folk/poetry duo. 

When I left North Staffordshire Polytechnic in 1978 with a degree in Modern Studies I knew that I wanted to be a writer and performer, but I still wasnít quite sure how. I worked on a building site and in a tennis-ball factory. I went freelance in 1981 with the aid of a little grant from Yorkshire Arts and Iíve not looked back since.  

I worked for years with The Circus of Poets performance poetry group and Versewagon, the Worldís first mobile writing workshop. Later, I worked with Martyn Wiley as Yakety Yak, entertaining audiences all over the place. 

Now Iím a solo performer and writer: Iíve worked in schools, theatres, arts centres, fields and front rooms. Iíve been poet in residence at Barnsley Football Club, Northern Spirit Trains and Humberside Police. Iíve written comedy for radio and plays for the stage, and Iíve worked extensively for Radios 1,2,3,4 and Five Live as well as for Yorkshire Television and BBC2ís Newsnight Review.  

Iím currently presenting The Verb, Radio 3ís Cabaret of The Word, doing gigs all over the place on my own and with cartoonist Tony Husband and musician Luke Goss and writing weekly columns for The Yorkshire Post and The Barnsley Chronicle. Itís a busy life but I love it: itís a long way from Oscar The Frog, but maybe it isnít. See you at a show! 

Ďthe Shirley Bassey of performance poetryí T.E.S. 

Agency: Adrian Mealing & Carole Mealing +44 (0)1684 540366  

Page last updated: 16 November 2020