Ian McMillan – photo: Adrian Mealing


Ahead of his return visit in September, we caught up with Ian McMillan and chatted about his passion for poetry and long association with North Lincolnshire.

TNL:  Thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions Ian. We are delighted to welcome you back to North Lincolnshire, this time with regular collaborators cartoonist Tony Husband and musician Luke Carver Goss for poetry and art workshops. What can our pupils expect from these sessions?

IM: We’ll be making new things that involve words and music and art and combinations of all three; we’ll be exploring ideas about place and time and listening. All we’ll have a good laugh!

TNL: The pupils have been tasked with creating an illustrated poem, which celebrates life in North Lincolnshire. These will be published in a special anthology. Do you have any top tips for these budding writers?

IM: Writers should always read as much as they can, they should listen to conversations and should try to be interested in lots of things at once. And they should carry a notebook at all times so that if they have an idea they can write it down.


Ian on location near Keadby filming ‘Open the Book’, an original poem written for the North Lincolnshire Children’s Literacy Trust. Photo: Joel Francis


TNL: From working as a poet-in-residence with Humberside police to providing the words to the Cycle Song opera, celebrating Scunthorpe steelworker turned Olympic cyclist Albert ‘Lal’ White, you’ve had a long association with North Lincolnshire. What attracts you to the area and do you have any especially fond memories?

IM: There’s something mystical and magical about this part of the country; it’s hard to define but it’s something to do with the wide skies and the way that history seems to be layered and layered. The past and the present and the future seem to walk hand in hand round here! I love walking down the front at Cleethorpes and feeling the wind tugging at my hair done watching the boats pass in the Humber.


Boats along the River Humber – photo: Joel Francis


TNL: Words Count in North Lincolnshire promotes reading for pleasure across our communities. Why do you think it is so important to get reading?

IM: Reading gives you power; it helps you to understand the world and your place in it. It’s also a way in to writing; I think that all readers should be writers and all writers should be readers.

TNL: Earlier this year you penned ‘Open the Book’, a poem for North Lincolnshire, and you keep a busy schedule. What other projects are you currently working on?

IM: At the moment I’m writing songs for choirs with Luke Carver Goss and working on an opera about the 1918-19 flu epidemic with composer Michael Betteridge. Oh and I’m writing poems about Yorkshire Tea!


For more information about both the poetry and art workshops and the poetry across the curriculum inset day please see the post below.

Watch the video of Ian filming ‘Open the Book’

Follow Ian on Twitter: @IMcMillan