I write poems (a lot) and the occasional novel (one).
My first collection of poetry – You Took the Last Bus Home (Unbound, 2016) – gathered together many of the poems I originally shared on Twitter. A follow-up collection, Alexa, what is there to know about love? was published by Picador in 2021 to much critical acclaim from me. In between, I wrote a novel, Diary of a Somebody (Picador, 2019) was shortlisted for the Costa first novel award, presumably following some sort of clerical error.
I’ve also written poetry for children. A collection of football poetry – 50 Ways to Score a Goal – came out in 2021 (Macmillan, 2021), while my poem Refugees has been made into an illustrated book for children (with Palazzo Editions in 2019).
A new collection – Days Like These (Picador, 2022) – which features a poem for every day of the year, published in October.
In other news, I quite like custard creams and have an aversion to author photographs (including my own).
This is the final sentence of this short biography and adds very little of value.
Usually I would be annoyed at spilling beer but I’ll make an exception on this occasion. Having read your poems about Jeremy Clarkson, known simply as ‘that odious twat’ in our house, I sprayed quality beer all over the carpet. I only wish I could use them in my literacy lessons.
Thanks for the laughs.
Thank you for your kind remarks. Apologies, though, for making you spill your beer. Let’s blame Clarkson.
Brian – Your poem Refugees was read (both ways) at my friend’s Seder tonight. I would like to share it with others without violating copyrights. I thought about sharing it on Facebook, but I also blog at Daily Kos, and could publish it there with your permission. Please let me know if I can. It’s very powerful.
Dear Rachel, sorry about the delay in replying. Thanks for your kind comments. I’d be very happy for you publish this via Daily Kos. with best wishes, Brian
Read 10 of your pieces; you batted a thousand. You seriously deserve a broader readership. 🙂 —Chagall
Great site. Can’t wait to read more. Thanks for checking mine out as well. Cheers!
well done brian thanks for looking at my blog you have done some great poetry writing here keep up the good work .
Thanks for visiting and following my Fictionary. I hope you enjoy my Accidental Words. I look forward to more of your poetry. Anyone who speaks so highly of JC deserves a wider readership. Yes, even viewed upside down from Down Under he is still a twat.
Thanks very much. Love Accidental Words. Pleased to hear that even from a distance, Clarkson can be disliked.
Love your site
Your Clarkson poems are brilliance kinda makes it ok that I share a first name with the dozy muppet he is
I’ll be back Sir
Thanks very much. Glad you like the Clarkson Verses – sorry about you having to share a first name with him.
Wow !! Love your poetry !! Quite refreshing!! You’ve got me hooked on to reading poems !! 😀
P.S. Thanks for the follow !
Your blog is such a wonderful find! I’m delighted.
What a lovely thing to say. Thank you!
Thanks for making my laugh out loud,
otherwise, I don’t think I could have made it through the funeral.
I am pleased to have helped you through this difficult time.
Thrilled to have found your site & have passed on the good news to colleagues
Thank you! How kind!
I am the poet RANTIN RICHIE and I came across your manifesto in a bookshop in York last week. It has pride of place above my mirror in the front room, like the radio mast on top of a very high building.
Count me in as a member of the Terza Rima
Thanks very much. I feel honoured to welcome you aboard the party.
I adore your work. It vindicates my own crap poems. Not that yours are. Crap I mean.
Good day to you.
I don’t believe for one minute that yours are crap.
Thank you for not believing! x
What a find! Your poetry is so clever, I love poetry that makes me smile or better still laugh. My 6 year old is being taught about poetry and rhymes in his class at school, I sent him in with a book by Shel Silverstein but I would love to find one of your poems to read to him. Any suggestions?
Thanks very much, Claire. That’s very kind. Shel Silverstein is so fabulous! I thought about your question but I’ve drawn a blank, I’m afraid. Probably the most “6 year old friendly” is the one called Word Needles but it’s a bit unseasonal!
I am somewhat annoyed that it has taken me too long to discover your excellent wordsmithery.
Do you ever perform in front of a live audience? I’d like to see that.
That’s very kind. Thank you. I don’t perform live, I’m afraid, for fear of rioting and other public safety concerns.
What about performing un-live?
(little early Halloween joke) 😉
Love from the spiked one. x
This is one of my favourite blogs by far!
I nominated you for the One Lovely Blog award, you can see the post here https://emtage.wordpress.com/one-lovely-blog-award/ 🙂
Thank you so much. How very kind of you!
Read a couple of your pieces. Absolutely loved them.I shall return to read more.
I love reading your poems and stories. I often re-read The Life of Trevor Bilston, a magnificent (if tragic) story that has the added personal bonus that I live in Leighton Buzzard.
Thanks very much, Chris. It is curious to think that the place where you live should be named after a footballer.
I know this is going to sound weird. I live in Canada and have a poetry board outside my house in Kingston, Ontario. I would like to use your nifty poem, Word Needles, this week. Is that okay? I would also like to put it up on FaceBook. Just for the halibut.
Have just discovered you 🙂
My husband’s always reading me extracts of poems he likes whilst I (inwardly) yawn and respond ‘Yes dear’. I’ve just READ HIM a dozen of yours and loved every one. Maybe I have discovered a new ‘common interest’ that is Brian Bilston! Thank you.
Thanks, Cathy. I am so glad to bring you two back together in that way.
Are you a woman?
Brian I am doing a talk in Bristol on Sat 28th Jan on Immigration would like some poetry could you join me.(paid).
Hi David, thanks very much for the kind offer. I’m flattered. I don’t really make public appearances, though, so I’m afraid I’ll have to decline.
Please may we reprint your Refugee Poem in our Quaker newsletter? It would have a very appreciative audience.
Hi Dawn, yes, by all means!
Brian, I am deeply moved by your poem “Refugees.” May I set it to music for choir?
Thank you, Daniel. Yes, by all means.
I am working with a group of young people and a few adults to create a play about two girls, one of whom is a refugee. We want to get the young people and our audience to think about the subject and see the people. We’re hoping to raise money as well as awareness for a local refugee family. Your poem would make the perfect prologue and epilogue to our play (credited on the script and the programme). Would you be willing for us to use it? We’ve used it in the devising process and the young people were really inspired by it so thank you!
Sorry Susie, I’ve only just seen this. I’d be delighted for you to use it in this way. Good luck with it all! Brian
That’s brilliant! Thanks Brian. Susie
Dear Brian please may I use your poem “Refugees” in our church news letter?
Thanks for getting in touch, Gill. Yes, by all means. best wishes, Brian
Dear Brian, so appropriate at this time of year, may I also use your challenging poem “Refugees” in our church news letter. Alan
Dear Alan, sorry for not getting back to you sooner. Yes, by all means.
I had read the poem “Refugees” and I hope to translate it into Arabic language and publish it at electronic magazines which I used to publish in them. I am waiting for your permission.
My Best Regards
Fawziya Mousa Ghanim
Dear Fawziya, thanks for getting in touch. I’d be delighted for you to do this.
Thank you so much. My respect and gratitude.
Brian is prone to break a dark aromatic flake. He’s also known to cope with a cut ‘n rub rope, but one thing is for sure, he has been heard to brag, that there’s nothing more pleasing than a good shag.
Love your stuff Brian.
Thank you. It’s like you know the real me.
I saw a strange man today
walking up the hill
he had a strange beard
(to signify his strangeness)
he carried a strange bag
on his strange back
I imagine he lives in a strange house
with his strange cat
(black, of course)
and because of his strange dietary needs
he eats strange food
(the man, that is, but probably the cat too)
he’ll listen to strange music
or meet strange friends
at some strange venue
strange strange strange
well, Mr Strange,
I rejoice in my normality
Dear Brian, a while ago you tweeted a poem which was made up of first lines from poems that you hadn’t finished. This got a huge response. Well I set myself the challenge of writing a poem for each of the first lines, which I’ve now done. Would it be at all possible for me to email them to you? If nothing else, just in case you are curious as to what someone else would do with that prompt. Some are very short and some are a lot better then the others, and some I was totally surprised when the poem seemed to take on a life of it’s own and surprised me with what came out.
After you’d giving us permission to use them, I also used them in a small group, when I was on a writers workshop and it was brilliant to hear what people came up with.
Thanks for helping to make twitter a much happier place.
With my best wishes,
Hi Martin, what an amazing thing to have done. I’d be delighted to take a look at them. My email address is email@example.com
I just shared your poem Refugees on facebook. Oh dear – I hope that’s OK.
Hi Stephen, that certainly is. Best wishes, Brian
Hi Brian ,
This is the link of an Arabic translated text of your poem.
My best wishes
Fawziya Mousa Ghanim- Iraq – Baghdad
Thank for writing a boring poem that I have to do an essay on at school. You are awesome and super smart though. Keep doing what ur doing
Sorry about that, Jim. I feel your pain.
I decided, when still abed at 10.30 am and iPadding passionate anti Brexit letters to The (Glasgow) Herald and The Scotsman although a mere septuagenarian, to google Brexit poetry and came across “As I grow old I will march not shuffle”. What a gem, how appropriate! I immediately downloaded “You Took The Last Bus Home”. You have made my day, not to mention my week, month and year. Decade?
Thanks so much, John. What a kind thing to say. Keep up those passionate anti-Brexit letters – maybe you’ll have your own volume of them published in the future.
Re your wonderful poem Refugee – I used it in a lesson during class last week and the barely audible comments of ‘wow’ or ‘god’ was amazing! I’m sorry not to have asked permission first for using in class. Please accept my apologies and gratitude.
Not at all. Thank you for your kind words. I’m so glad that your class reacted to it in that way.
I am a filmmaker based in Barcelona. I just read some of your beautiful poems and I felt in love with the poem Refugees. I was wondering if I could use the text to voice over a personal project , it is a non commercial work and I would be honored to share it with you once its all done.The project follows a refugee and his new lifestyle in a European city. Let me know if you think I could include your powerful poem. Thank you so much in advance!
Thanks, Marc. Yes, that’s all fine by me. Good luck with the project. Best wishes, Brian
Brian, I love your poetry and would like to share it with my students from Japan, to help them to find the intrigue and delight that can be found in a poem. Is that ok with you? Barbara
Hi Barbara, thanks for your kind words. I’d be delighted for you to do so.
Hi Brian – we met at Malvern; not ill-met at Midnight proud Bilston!
Had anyone approached you about participating in the Bewdley Festival 2020?
Those of us in the general North Worcs attea know that you’d be, as usual, a 🌟. Do you have an agent / partner / interested person who sorts this out?
Hi Jill, I remember it well! I’d be delighted to do something at the Bewdley Festival should the Bewdley Festival want me. The best person to contact about this is Camilla Elworthy at Picador. She’s been organising all my events this year. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for thinking of me!
I recently came across your poem ‘Refugees’ in an exhibition about the Basque children who sought refuge in Britain in 1937. I hope I am not getting the exhibition organisers into trouble by telling you this, in case they didn’t clear the copyright with you, but it was a moving exhibition and your poem was a highlight for me. I would like to share it with a few friends, if I may.
I am so glad to have found you. We need more voices like yours especially at the moment. Your clarity and your humour. Brill!
Thank you, Ginny. I wasn’t aware of that but I’m always delighted when that poem makes an appearance somewhere, regardless of copyright!
I write articles about refugees every month for a dozen local village and parish magazines, publicity for Refugee Support Group, South Somerset, which both holds fundraising events and collects donations of goods for those in refugee camps. (There is a Facebook page)
. In present circumstances these activities are suspended but in time I would very much like to use your poem Refugees for one article if I could have your permission.
Many thanks for writing it,
Hi Geraldine, yes, by all means – and thanks for all the work you and your group have been doing to support refugees, best wishes, Brian
Firstly I love your poetry. I started reading “Diary of a Somebody” at the beginning of lockdown and totally loved it. Thank you so much; it was a lifesaver during those first scary weeks .
During lockdown, I fell in love via text. Repeated typos and autocorrects left us both laughing long into the night and kick started our relationship. Your poem ” Love poem, written in haste” captures that feeling perfectly. I would like to give my lovely chap a framed copy of this poem and wondered do you send out copies of individual poems? If so can I pay for that and if so how? So many questions – sorry.
Again thank you – you’re brill.
Hi Wendy, thanks for getting in touch. What a wonderful story that is. I’m so happy for you! I’m afraid that I don’t send out poems in that way – but do feel free to print out a copy of it yourself (watch out for typos, of course) and have it framed, should you wish to. Thanks very much for your kind words and best wishes to you both. Brian
You really deserve to be a dedicated member ot the Oulipo society (from the two poetries I happened to read : Refugees and Fibonacci)
Most of my poetry is far too conventional, alas, so I suspect I’d end up being blackballed by existing members.
You are extraordinary! I only found your work quite recently.
Each January for the past 22 years I have shared a poem a day with (what is now) an international group of poetry lovers. It began as a way to add light to the dark, dull days of January. Last night I included Serenity Prayer. The feedback was astounding. You now have many more fans! One of them is one of my favorite poets Ellen Bass, who asked me if I knew you and said if I did to pass along that she loved the last line “a day we can barely recall.”
Thank you for the joy you bring to all of us! Gina Vild email@example.com
What a lovely message to receive. Thank you so much, Gina. That’s very kind of you. And thank you to Ellen, too! What a great thing you do to share poetry with others.
I used to follow you on Twitter before I decided to abandon all social media (except Whatsapp) a few years ago. I found I was too addicted to it all and it was doing my head in, particularly Facebook, so I decided to pack it all in. Freedom!
Anyway, back to you … My daughter recently bought me your book ‘Diary of a Somebody’ which I have just started to read. Brian, it is so funny and clever. You really are amazing – a genius with words. Thank you for being so brilliant and entertaining.
Now and again I write little poems if something inspires me or triggers something in me to do them. I wrote this one after watching the brilliant movie ‘Last Christmas’ based on a story written by Emma Thompson and her husband Greg Wise.
Here it is (stick with it)
The Other Day …
The other day I saw the sky.
It looked so blue way up high.
Floating clouds, fluffy white,
Yellow sun, shining bright.
The other day I smelt the grass.
Lush and green, I didn’t pass.
Wavering gently in the breeze,
Edged by flowers and some trees.
The other day a song I heard
From tweeting birds as I stared,
Perched on a branch with a view.
Then they stopped and off they flew.
The other day I felt my feet
Tread autumn leaves, what a treat.
A bed of brown and gold they made.
My favourite season they persuade.
The other day I loved the snow
On the roofs and down below.
On fields, on roads, on the hill,
So pure and white … silent, still.
The other day I saw a look
Not on Insta nor Facebook
A lovely smile, real and true
Filtered not, human too.
The other day … life I did own.
I went outside without my phone.
by Denise O’Neill, Northern Ireland
Hi Denise, I remember you! Well done for escaping the tyranny of social media! Thanks for sharing my poem – I loved it (he said, reading it on his phone). It was just what I needed to read this morning.
Hope all is well with you!
Ah thanks for replying Brian and for remembering me (wow!). Yes, I escaped, but I do sometimes dip in and out of Twitter even though I don’t have an account and I am not able to comment. It is very difficult to completely stay away, especially having the temptation of my phone by my side! 😜 Keep writing Brian – you are a word genius and give so much joy to us all! 👌😀
I recently launched an organization (www.heartofanation.io) and would love to post and distribute “Refugees” with proper credit. Is that possible and if so how would you like to be identified? Thank you!!
Hi Jonathan, thanks for getting in touch. Yes, that would be fine. You just need to identity me as Brian Bilston, no affiliation necessary. Thanks,
Brian, your poem Refugees is amazing and thought provoking. I am producing a think-piece (handout for students – non-commercial) on Worldviews, to challenge the way we think, for the UK Defence Academy. I am very keen to include your poem, suitably credited, in the ‘Challenging our Views’ section, but clearly would not wish to do so without your permission.
Many thanks for your consideration, Hamish
Thanks, Hamish. That’s all fine by me. Good luck with it!
Thanks so much, I will attribute appropriately!
My favourite poet has come up with my favourite poem, well done.
If….. only you were in charge!
Thanks, Chris. I don’t think me being in charge would end well either!