About Brian

‘Brian Bilston is a laureate for our fractured times, a wordsmith who cares deeply about the impact his language makes as it dances before our eyes.’ Ian McMillan

imageFrequently described as the “Poet Laureate of Twitter”, Brian Bilston is a poet clouded in the pipe smoke of mystery. Very little is known about him other than the fragments of information revealed on social media: his penchant for tank tops, his enjoyment of Vimto, his dislike of Jeremy Clarkson.

In 2014 he became the first person to retain the title of Pipe Smoker of the Year [Poetry section] and, over the years, he has won numerous awards for cycling proficiency, first aid, and general tidiness. He won the 2015 Great British Write Off poetry prize for a poem disguised in a Venn diagram.

His first collection of poetry You Caught the Last Bus Home will be published later this year with Unbound. You can find a short film about it, how to support it, and get your name in the back of it, here:

https://unbound.co.uk/books/brian-bilston

Writing about his own verse, he says:

I write about Waitrose.
And the pitta of Waitrose.
The poetry is in the pitta.

From the Esquire online weekly magazine:

20140529-191100.jpg

You can find Brian most days on Twitter (@brian_bilston) and also on Facebook (www.facebook.com/BrianBilston/).

 

172 comments

  1. Dear Brian,

    I teach English to adults in Belgium and have been wondering whether I can use your poems in class (about once a month). I am hoping to (re)awaken their interest in poetry this way.
    I have noticed in the comments here that you often allow this – thank you on behalf of all of us teachers!

    Marie

  2. It’s NationalPoetry Day on Thursday and I’d like to read one of your poems from ‘Alexa…etc” in my local library in Skelmanthorpe, a West Yorkshire village near Huddersfield. Would that be okay?
    Mike

  3. I just read your book.
    Thanks so much for writing it.
    I loved every word.

    Here’s some errata for Diary of a Somebody:

    p16 “whom he met at sales conference” should be “whom he met at a sales conference”.
    p272 the tear should probably be on the right side on the page, not the left.
    p328 “as distraction” should be “as a distraction”.
    p391 “8th April” should be “1st April”.
    p392 “8th June” should be “9th June”.
    p392 “25th June” should be “27th June”.
    p392 “18th September” the poem has gone missing.

    Thanks again.

    1. Thanks very much for your kind words. Very glad you enjoyed it. Thanks also for the errata. A couple I’d not encountered before so that’s very helpful. The issues on pp391-2 have been sorted now, though. Can I ask what version of the Diary did you read: hardcover, paperback or ebook?
      Thanks again,
      Brian

  4. Dear Brian,

    I would like to ask if it’s possible to quote your poem Refugees in our upcoming book.

    Thank you

    Iain

      1. Thank you, Brian.

        Our book is called Ten Survival Skills for a World in Flux, and is by Tom Fletcher. It’s a guide to the skills for modern life!

        I could also email you the poem as Tom would like it to appear in the book.

        All best,
        Iain

      2. Thanks, Iain. As the book is being published by Harper Collins, you’ll need to get in touch with the rights department of my publisher Unbound. The contact there is Ilona Chavasse and her email address is ilona@unbound.co.uk
        Best wishes,
        Brian

  5. Hello, Sir, Thank you for your hilarious poetry! I’ve discovered a Treasure today (that would be YOU, btw😃). I’ve already shared two of your poems on my feed. Keep writing! We love your stuff.😃

  6. Dear Brian,

    Does anyone ever send you poems?! This is a Christmas poem my 11yr old wrote…. it made me laugh out loud, so I’m sharing… “The Humble Sprout”

    The Humble Sprout,
    Nothing’s wrong with it.
    However,
    They make people shout.

    Only a small cabbage
    The flavour – quite bland
    You can roast ’em, fry ’em, boil ’em
    And with butter they taste grand!

    A vegetable most hated,
    I can change your mind
    Because, when plated
    I think you’ll find….

    Behold! The Humble Sprout!
    Sweet, yet savoury
    Chewy, delectable, warm,
    Gives me a feeling I want to cry out:

    A VEGETABLE MOST HATED
    IS HIGHLY UNDER-RATED!
    Oh! how I love to munch
    on sprouts at Christmas lunch

  7. Hi Brian,
    I am studying at the undergraduate level(from india) and we have one of your poems (refugee),in our syllabus and in the place of the poets picture “Jeremy Clarkson’s” picture is published.
    I wonder why?an explanation?
    ,so I can convince my teacher that jerremy Clarkson is not Brian bilston

    1. I’ve just read the lyrics to that. They’re brilliant. And I’m sorry that you’ve had cause this year for that song to resonate so with you. Hope you have people around you. And yes, sorry I missed you out earlier comment. Please feel free to use those lines in your own version. No need to mention me!

  8. Hi Brian,
    Our church (Nailsea Methodist Church in North Somerset) is looking to become a ‘Church of Sanctuary’ (part of City of Sanctuary). Would it be permissible to put your poem ‘Refugees’ in our church magazine? (The magazine is free) Thank you.
    Ceri

      1. Thank you so much.
        Ceri
        P.S. I’ve ordered your ‘Refugees’ book, to share with the KS1 children in the school in Bristol where I teach. (It is a ‘School of Sanctuary’) 🙂

  9. Good Morning Brain, huge fan of your work. Just wondering when you were born and where? I’m writing a paper for the New York Times. Looking forward to hearing from you. Sincerely Mike Hawk.

    1. Hi Hilary, thanks for getting In touch. I’d be delighted to answer a few questions. I don’t really do in-person interviews (unless my publisher makes me) but very happy to answer questions via email.

  10. Hi Brian. I was wondering if we could please use your poem “Refugees” for a special fundraising magazine we are producing? We are not making any profits from the magazine and we are absorbing all editorial, design and other costs to ensure all money raised goes directly to the DEC Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal. Thank you, Sinead.

  11. Hi Brian,

    i’ve just discovered your work through an impulsive decision at waterstones and immediately fell in love! i read alexa, what is there to know about love in one sitting at an obscure time of night, so i had to read more and after following you on twitter i only love you more. Today, you posted a poem about sundays, which honestly felt eerie to me because one of my favourite things to write about is sundays too! your purposeful use of language and rhyme is something i aspired to long before i ever discovered you, and finding you honestly feels like divine timing. this is a poem i wrote a couple months ago that i think (i hope) you’ll enjoy. have a wonderfully mundane sunday!

    comic relief

    the smartest man i ever met
    coasts through life with 6 things to say
    and he’d pick them like russian roulette.

    detonation in 5, 4,
    he’ll only leave once the victor was announced
    and he’d won,
    3 for 3 – gg.
    sunglasses on
    the reaper will take, but he won’t wreck his eyes too.

    i don’t think i’ve ever met someone so deathly aware of the apocalypse
    who laughs that hard at a ‘yo mamma’ diss
    he’s the only one i’ve ever met who could balance an ignorant bliss
    while knowing completely why he must build his home back brick by brick.

  12. Hello Brian,
    I, like many others, am writing to ask permission to use your poem Refugees in my English class. I teach in a sixth form in Brittany, in France.
    This is such a wonderful, ingenious poem to be able to study with students. The language is simple so most of them can understand it without having to go into a detailed analysis. And of Such a universal subject, and an issue that just never ends…

  13. I have been homeschooling for years, trying to teach my children to appreciate poetry. You Took the Last Bus Home is the first poetry book I have EVER enjoyed, and we are adding it to our curriculum. Thank you for sharing your clever use of words and making me laugh out loud. Good medicine!

  14. Hi Brian,

    I hope you are well.

    I work at a venue and was wondering how we go about booking you for an event?

  15. Hello Brian Bilston
    I do not use social meja and so I came upon your book ‘You caught the last bus home’ by pure happenstance (I was searching for books by Brian Bilton). However, I enjoyed it so much that I did something I have not done for many years…I went onto Kobo and paid FULL PRICE for ‘Diary of a somebody’ (I only usually buy the 99p books). I am a pensioner, so I hope it’s worth it.
    Roger

    1. I am sorry to have provoked you into parting with so much money, Roger. If the book is not to your satisfaction, you can either a) apply for a refund or b) request me to write you a better one. Please note that the latter may take some time.

      1. Thank you for your kind offer, I’ll let you know my preference once I’ve read a bit further (if I do decide on the refund, I prefer postal orders). By the way, the image by my name is not really me, like you I use a pseudofas.
        Roger

  16. I’ve just been introduced to Brian Bilston through your poem The Cost Of Living. I would like to publish it in our monthly village newsletter if that would be possible please? We only print 140 copies and also have an e mail list to send to.
    Many thanks
    Penny

  17. Dear Brian

    My husband and I love your poetry and read them most days. The sentiments, humour and social/political commentary resonate with us. Are you doing any readings in Cambridgeshire or East Anglia in the near future? I would like to surprise my husband by taking him to a reading event.

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words, Fiona. I’m coming to near(ish) you on 18th October, when I’m doing at reading at Hart’s Books in Saffron Walden. I’ve just read, however, that tickets have sold out. Might be worth seeing if they have a wait list? I’ll also be in Ely at Toppings Bookshop earlier that day but I think that’s just to sign books rather than do a reading. I’m sure I’ll be back over your way soon, though.

  18. Dear Mr.Bilston
    I write to praise your poems,full of humour and ,in the one about the climate, carrying a message of hope conveyed ingeniously.
    May your pen never dry.
    Bob Whelan
    P.S. As a versifier of sorts myself,
    I send you one of my scribblings,and hope it might amuse:
    Whether they’re gracefully strolling
    Or curled up sleeping on mats
    I make a beeline for any oul’ feline
    Let’s face it,I’m mad about cats

  19. hi Bryan

    I would very much like to ask to read at our Poetry Festival next year in Morecambe.
    It runs September 22nd to 24th.
    what’s the best way to try and sort something out?

  20. Hi Brian, my son Leo sent me a copy of your View from a Train Window; and the View from the Author’s Companion came to me, in a series of flashes!

    THE OTHER VIEW FROM THE TRAIN

    -ster skeletal giantess
    -ey fly in peloton north-west
    -r if milk is becoming worthless
    – the coming harvest
    -ack, flashes of smashed union jacks
    -gsters, seedy suburbs, and sidings
    Some buildings
    Graffiti
    Wolverhampton – with its brand new Bus Station!

    All best wishes, Sebastian

      1. DEAR BRIAN

        I love the sweet cover of your latest,
        Your rave-reviewed, theses –
        Your ‘Days Like These’ volume
        In a year’s easy pieces,
        Which appears to be offered
        From a brusher, with love,
        As s/he sweeps up the sheaves
        Of the leaves from mellifluous,
        Multi-deciduous trees….

        But, search as I might,
        Overday, overnight,
        I cannot determine who
        This gruff brusher might be.
        Are you he?
        Did you quietly rush off
        A drone-made back-selfie like this?
        But whoever the figure,
        For me, a question much bigger, is:

        Who is the artist?
        For He / She / or Other
        Should never be given
        The brush-off, you see?

      2. I love that, not least the inclusion of the word ‘mellifluous’, which really should get more outings. The gruff brusher is not me, although I have been known to make sweeping changes. In terms of the artist, it’s by a chap called Joe Berger who has produced the illustrations for my last three books. There’s a credit to him on the back inside cover.
        Thanks again for the superb poem.

      3. ‘On the inside back cover’ –
        I’m running to see
        Where’s my blind spot:
        So I’m more of a weak swot
        Than I thought so to be!
        Joe Berger
        Emerges
        From under the trees!

        I greet his emergence
        With pleasure – do, please
        Pass on my warm greetings,
        For more of his ‘sweepings’,
        I’m urgently waiting!

        I love his front covers
        Conveying with ease
        The tone of the poems
        Enclosed – seems he’ll know ’em
        Enough as to winnow
        The chaff,
        And discover the seeds –
        And thus craft
        Out a winner:
        A visual, poetic, release –
        Set to tease
        Every poetry shopper’s
        Soft brain cells,
        So Brian sells
        A million more copies!
        More, please!

  21. Hi Brian
    Thank you for your poem about refugees. We wondered if we might have permission to use it in our parish magazine (St Matthew with St Paul, Winchester). The plan is to have a focus on refugees in our next edition. We’ve hosted a couple of musical events for the new Ukrainian community here, and a number of us in the parish have been or still are hosting Ukrainian guests.
    Thank you,
    Ursula

  22. Hi Brian,
    TBH I had never heard of you but while browsing in the brilliant 20 storey bookshop in Kelso I came across a signed copy of ‘days like these’ & on a whim bought a copy.
    I love poetry and you are a skilled wordsmith.
    The matching of different events with each day adds even more depth to your excellent poetry.
    Just wanted to say ‘thank you’ for cheering me up so skilfully.
    Take care
    David

  23. I saw the magic on stage last evening, following fish and chips in the only eatery available. Our friends across the Atlantic have pinched and diluted this word, but I use it in it’s full sense. Brian, you were Awesome in Chorley, so thank you.

  24. Sir, I “teach” English conversation here in Spain. May I please base at least one lesson around your poetry, from the tragedy of Refugees to the humour of Bad Salad?

  25. Hi Brian! I just wanted to let you know how much I’m enjoying ‘Days Like These’ and what a treat your poems are at the end of the day! Thank you 😊 for brightening up my dark January days! How lovely to be taken on a journey through the year with your words and wisdom!

  26. I am developing a game based on the Fibonacci number series and would like your permission to use your poem “word crunching” as an example of this number series importance.

    1. Hi Ron, that’s fine by me. If the intention is for the game to be developed commercially, though, you’d need to get in touch with my publisher (Unbound), who handle rights and permissions for that poem.
      Thanks!

      1. Thank you but my intent is to build a few for friends and family i don’t believe that there is a market to make a thousand of this game but I can hope and if it does fly I will certainly give you your do compensation for your contribution. Thank you again.

  27. DAZED LIKE THIS

    Brian Bilston
    can distil an
    incident on
    any day in
    history;
    and with a twist
    get to the gist –
    the nub,
    the kernel
    or the grist –
    and so instil in
    wordly wit,
    a verse absurdly
    fit to fill
    the moment and
    immortalise it.
    But how he plays
    this trick of time,
    to daze me with
    his rhythm and rhyme,
    stays an eternal
    mystery!

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