Andrew McMillan

posted in: 2019, Participants | 0
Photo credit: Urszula Soltys

Andrew McMillan’s debut collection physical was the first ever poetry collection to win The Guardian First Book Award. The collection also won the Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection Prize, a Somerset Maugham Award (2016), an Eric Gregory Award (2016) and a Northern Writers’ award (2014). It was shortlisted the Dylan Thomas Prize, the Costa Poetry Award, The Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year 2016, the Forward Prize for Best First Collection, the Roehampton Poetry Prize and the Polari First Book Prize. It was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation for Autumn 2015. Most recently physical has been translated into Norwegian (Aschehoug, 2017), a bi-lingual French edition, Le Corps Des Hommes (Grasset, 2018) and is forthcoming in Galician (A Chan da Polvora, 2019). His second collection, playtime, was published by Jonathan Cape in 2018; it was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation for Autumn 2018. He is senior lecturer at the Manchester Writing School at MMU and lives in Manchester.


Inter/Pretations: Poetry and the Body| 14:40 – 15:40

Launch of Redactions/Redirections & Poetry Prints 11:00-12:00 | Northern Stage, Stage 2

Emily Hasler, Phoebe Power & Andrew McMillan 14:30-15:30 | Northern Stage, Stage 2



it will take a good ten minutes for them to stop

breathing as heavy as they are   for the burning

in their lungs to dampen   for the mud from the yard

to be trodden down into the hairbrown carpet

one boy clutches his chest as though trying to keep

his bones from bursting out   later he will ask me

how many tattoos I have   whether I have one

on my bum   whether he can look to verify

my denial   such innocence   such freedom in asking

for the body of another   I point him back

to the page      there will be time for him   for them all

to learn of the body’s curve into awkwardness

to find their way into the rules and the lessons

they will come to know by heart      once   some schoolgirls

of ten or eleven   in my primary   drew

red crayon down a tampon   and left it hanging

half out of one of their schoolbags in the cloakroom

trying to rush themselves to adolescence

the girls in this class are huddled in the corner

having already learnt they should be suspicious

of new men   their necks seem longer than the boys’

they’ve learnt to hold themselves   they’ve learnt what small

words from them can do      there was a storeroom

in my primary school and if we were chosen

to tidy away mats after PE lessons

me and another boy would try out wrestling moves

on each other   the last time I remember it

we were both laid out on the mats after a slam

my body over his  cheap shorts almost touching

and I felt a warmth   nothing wet or sexual

something like light spreading across a cold surface

and a small part of the back corridor

of my mind is still lit by that moment   his eyes

on mine for longer than they should have been

seeing in them the whole incident   the grappling

amongst the quoits and plastic footballs   the fall

onto the mats   the staledinner breath   the knowing

then of what it was   of what it would be   soon