Yes But What Is This? What Exactly?


Published 1st October 2020

A puddle, lighthouses, the financial crisis (in three parts) or seeing a goal scored from a passing train, these typically sharp-eyed and brilliantly inventive McMillan poems often can’t help being very funny, while also being, as usual, more serious than they seem, and more hurt.

Read a Sample.

What Writers and Critics Think

  • World class – one of today’s greatest poetry performers

    Carol Ann Duffy
  • Hard hitting ... Ian McMillan at the top of his game

    London Grip on That’s Not a Fishing Boat, It’s a Giraffe: Responses to Austerity
  • McMillan’s known as a Barnsley poet, but his concerns here, while grounded on home turf (another football reference), speak of more global issues that enable him to demonstrate his emotional intelligence as well as his wit [...]. There’s a sense that McMillan goes more personal with these poems than usual. Yes, there’s his hallmark funny observations, but there’s some real evidence of a man reflecting not only on how he arrived at the present time, but where he wants to go; something of a referendum of the heart takes place in just twenty-five pages.

    Rachel J Fenton


‘Lighter’ is a dark poem. And so, ironically, is ‘Lighthouses’. I’ll quote more from this one to demonstrate that McMillan isn’t a one-trick pony. He’s kaleidoscopic, witty, intelligent, playful and thought-provoking. A Grand-National contender, in fact:

That’s what he said in the interview:

‘Let them live in lighthouses. After all
We have no use for lighthouses any more
So rather than having them litter the coast

Let the homeless live in them,

And then (chuckle in the voice)
When the light comes on it will seem
(giggle in the voice) like … like …

They have had a bright idea.’

– Helena Nelson, Sphinx (read full review here)

McMillan’s observations are earthed but complex; he finds a way to the heart of the matter with great heart of his own, and he does so, often, by peering through the counter-intuitive end of the telescope.The Yorkshire Times on on That’s Not a Fishing Boat, It’s a Giraffe: Responses to Austerity


Ian McMillan is a poet, journalist, playwright and broadcaster. He has had several volumes of poetry published for both adults and children, and is an enthusiastic advocate of poetry. In addition he has had journalism published in Q magazine and Mojo magazine, and writes a weekly column in his home town’s local newspaper, The Barnsley Chronicle. He has the unique honour of being the first poet in residence to a football club, his hometown Barnsley FC.

Ian’s first Smith|Doorstop pamphlet, Tall in the Saddle, was published in 1986 — the company’s first year of business; and his second was This Lake Used to be Frozen: Lamps in 2011, the Poetry Business’ 25th anniversary year. He has two further pamphlets with Smith|Doorstop: Ah’ve Soiled Ma Breeks (2012) and That’s Not a Fishing Boat, It’s a Giraffe (2019).

Additional information

Weight 0.067 kg
Dimensions 21 × 14.8 × 0.6 cm

978-1-912196-37-1, 978-1-912196-48-7



Publication Year



eBook (ePub), Pamphlet