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Poetry Pleases: Ordinary Heroes, Ordinary Heroines - a poem by Ian McMillan

Ian McMillan is a poet. and the funniest entertainer in Britain.

After seeing him perform three weeks ago I have no hesitation in making this declaration. You are in for a cart-load of giggles and guffaws when he takes to the stage, the field or the front room. I am still laughing.

The Times Educational Supplement called Ian the Shirley Bassey of performance poets.

Besides doing stand-up shows he writes newspaper columns and regularly appears on BBC radio and TV.

He gave me permission to run one of his poems. Ordinary Heroes, Ordinary Heroines which he wrote to mark this year's Poetry Day.

Before the poem there are some autobiographical words by Ian.

So...read on, and enjoy. You are in the company of one of the most warm-hearted entertainers of our age.

-- Peter Hinchliffe, Open Writing Editor

Ian McMillan writes:

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!


Ordinary Heroes, Ordinary Heroines

The befriender, the helper, the lifter, the carrier;
The man who smiled beyond the language barrier.
The have-a-go woman who chased the thief
The good Samaritan who returned your teeth

The carers, tea servers, heart menders, the ones
Who still help to tidy when the others have gone;
The ones who sit listening to old Uncle Jack
As his stories go round and his stories come back.

The talker, dog walker, hedge cutter, veg chopper
Girl who got your shopping and the bully-stopper
The bloke who helped you up when you fell down on the street
The heroes and heroines who make our lives complete

Do visit Ian's Web site

Bookings / info. contact: Adrian Mealing tel/fax: +44 (0) 1684 540366 web: www.uktouring.org.uk
Press contact: Jim Howden tel: +44 (0)1568 620515 e-mail: jim@uktouring.org.uk


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