An Air That Kills – a 3-minute lecture on Housman’s “blue remembered hills” poem.

Poem 40 from Housman’s A Shropshire Lad is one of his most famous. Here’s a microlecture on it.



“Paradise”, a poem for National Poetry Day. #nationalpoetryday #poems #poets #poetry


Paradise is various and has no ghosts;
in it there is nothing to remember.

Only children can live there, unknowing,
part-time, between ordinary terrors.

Perhaps it is one great garden, rampant
with green, with fruit that force themselves

through blossom that’s still on the branch.
There must be water – a stream, a beck, a river.

It could be a street, the tap of a raindrop
releasing the spirit of warm paving stone,

the angle of shadow across bright red brick,
the smell of a warm car parked in a market place.

Fruit and flower still force themselves in,
through cracks in brick and kerbstone,

in guttering and old ledges, high up.
The animals, too, they walk, fly and crawl

as if they had never been away, flies
in the kitchen, black clouds of starlings

that turn between buildings, cat in the hedge,
woodlouse and spider in corners overlooked.

All built flimsy on earth, its deep miles
of rock and lava, its delicate blue membrane of air

all of a piece as we hurtle as debris away
from the lost beginning of the universe.

To be there would be to remember nothing,
to walk in the weaponless fields

before the clock had started. Now it’s only
sensed – in the movement of limbs into water,

in the whirr of a sparrow’s wings, perhaps,
or a sudden scent of dogrose, or something that

slowly develops, like the face of a friend
to a patient doused in amnesia, after a crash.

For someone it’s happening now, for the first time;
like that boy and his dog who tumble and run

down a sloping field of wheat, leaving dark trails
the wind cannot smooth away as evening come on

and motorway drivers flick on their lights,
eager for static destinations –

all of them moving through the in-between hours
when the glancing traveller catches

figures on forecourts like golden statues.
And when the boy who has cake for the asking

becomes the man who must struggle for his bread
he’ll think he lived in Eden once or twice

in a time when he could roam between stream and street
and everything lay before him like a sloping field of wheat.


Michael Blackburn. Published in The Ascending Boy, Flambard Press, 1999.

Albion Days: “a landscape of language disturbed, it yields close and intimate scents”.

My latest poetry title, Albion Days, is now available on Amazon:

Albion Days-small

Michael Blackburn’s Albion Days activates a mannered 19th-century prose work by arranging it in parts. Like a landscape of language disturbed, it yields close and intimate scents – She was/frankness /itself/her bees and/her flowers/the/farmyard. Not far from Dylan’s “Just Like a Woman”, is it? – with her fog, her amphetamine and her pearls. Mary Russell Mitford, meet Edie Sedgwick. – Michael Coffey

A recreation of an Old England that endures but is simultaneously always on the verge of disappearing.

An unusual, large format book (120 pages):

Albion Days1

One for your collection, from Amazon: £6.99.

The Loop – a new edition is now playing at Radio Wildfire

There’s a new version of The Loop now playing on Radio Wildfire with another selection of tracks uploaded to the ‘Submit’ page of our website and sent to us on cd by writers, artists, musicians and listeners around the world.

Listen to tracks from:
Brendan Gallagher, Albarz, Dwane Reads, Michael Clifton, Jonathan Taylor, Bissecta de Kinsame, Ronald Jones, Kim Cayer, Superbard, Sara Clark, Bunbury Banter Theatre Co, Maneli Jamal, Ben Macnair, Stephen Mead, Christopher Templeton, and Chris Hoskins.
Spoken word, stories, excellent musical interludes and not a chocolate egg in sight.

So join us and listen by going to and clicking on The Loop – and see the full playlist on the website.

We’ll be transmitting our live show as usual at 8.00pm on Monday 4th April with a full programme of pre-recorded tracks, guest interviews and conversation and, as usual, we’ll be sending out details of the show in advance.

(And don’t forget, you can upload soundfiles of your own work to the ‘Submit’ page of the Radio Wildfire website. Mp3s are our preferred format. You can also ensure you always get reminders of upcoming shows on Radio Wildfire by following us on Twitter @radiowildfire or by visiting us at

The Loop is curated by Vaughn Reeves and plays online continuously except during our live broadcasts.

We hope you enjoy it.
Best wishes from the folk at Radio Wildfire.

Radio Wildfire is an independent online radio station which blends spoken word, poetry, performance literature, comedy, storytelling, short stories and more with a novel selection of word/music fusion and an eclectic mix of musical styles. currently broadcasts live 8.00-10.00pm (UK time) on the first Monday of every month.

It’s Offensive – #3 of In The World: The Clarkson Poems #Clarkson #poetry #TopGear #TheClarksonPoems


two complaints
Muslim leaders
four young ladies
Sloggi G-strings
new gherkin building
croquet mallet
cat in a sack
flashing lights
a bit of mild violence
Susannah York

from In The World: The Clarkson Poems

“The Fame Game,” #2 of In The World: The Clarkson Poems. #TheClarksonPoems #poetry #Clarkson #TopGea


A few lunatics who adopt dolphins
may imagine how many lapdancers
go on television just like you.
Once a year big-name stars rock up
in a warm, pink bubble bath.
Who is normal? Who’s doing the rounds?
The Man explains he hasn’t got a mobile
in the car and Edith and Danny live
in a big house. This involved questions
about my sex life and wearing shoes.
I calmly explained I wouldn’t buy my own milk
but it was no good. The radio station
flogged my castle full of stuffed Germans.

#2 from In The World: The Clarkson Poems