Star poet lines up for Belper Arts Festival show

Ian McMillan and Luke Carver Goss will perform for the Belper Arts Festival at Christ Church on Friday, May 12.
Ian McMillan and Luke Carver Goss will perform for the Belper Arts Festival at Christ Church on Friday, May 12.

With the Belper Arts Festival in full swing, audiences should book now for a poet who puts the sounds of the north in a verse of their own.

Known as the Bard of Barnsley, writer and broadcaster Ian McMillan mines his South Yorkshire roots for words that represent what he calls “little non-metropolitan centres of inspiration.”

He said: “I like the Yorkshire language. Its short vowels and choppy rhythms.

“I like the landscape with its constant reminders of history and politics. And I like our oppositional nature, our ‘brussen-ness’ to use a Yorkshire term.”

Ian’s talents have earned him spots on radio and in newspapers, but he regularly visits schools, prisons and unexpected environments like his role as poet-in-residence at Barnsley FC.

He said: “Poetry is for everyone. There are a lot of people who write poems, raps, rhymes, rhythmic anecdotes, songs: maybe we define poetry too narrowly. The poet can be a guardian of the language.”

His philosophy has also led Ian to be vocal about supporting access to the arts at a time of funding cuts throughout the creative industries.

He said: “Everyone in the arts is worried. But I hope people will understand the arts are vital to everyday life.”

The vitality is palpable in Ian’s work and its live musical accompaniment by composer Luke Carver Goss.

Catch them at Christ Church, The Triangle, on Friday May 12, 7.30pm. Tickets are £12.50 from Oxfam Books and Music, King Street.