Multi award-winning poet Andrew McMillan reads from Physical and Playtime.


“the sort of once-in-a-generation debut that causes everyone to sit up and take notice” – The Guardian
“Vivid, accessible and honest, sometimes uncomfortably so” – Alan Bennett for the London Review of Books
“Tender and steely… told with courage, invention and charm.” – The Sunday Times 

Andrew McMillan
’s debut collection physical was the first ever poetry collection to win The Guardian First Book Award. Raw and urgent, these poems are hymns to the male body – to male friendship and male love – muscular, sometimes shocking, but always deeply moving. In an extraordinary blend of McMillan’s own colloquial Yorkshire rhythms with a sinewy, Metaphysical music and Thom Gunn’s torque and speed – ‘your kiss was deep enough to stand in’ – the poems confront what it is to be a man and interrogate the very idea of masculinity. This is poetry where every instance of human connection, from the casual encounter to the intimate relationship, becomes redeemable and revelatory.

Awards for Physical, now translated into many languages:
Winner of the Guardian First Book Award 2015
Winner of the Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection Prize
Winner of an Eric Gregory Award
Winner of a Somerset Maugham Award
Voted one of the top 25 poetry books of the past 25 years by the Booksellers Association
Winner of a Northern Writers’ award (2014)
Shortlisted for 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.

His second collection, playtime, was published by Jonathan Cape in 2018; it was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation for Autumn 2018, a Poetry Book of the Month in both The Observer and The Telegraph and a Poetry Book of the Year in The Sunday Times.

In these intimate, sometimes painfully frank poems, Andrew McMillan takes us back to childhood and early adolescence to explore the different ways we grow into our sexual selves and our adult identities. Examining our teenage rites of passage: those dilemmas and traumas that shape us – eating disorders, masturbation, loss of virginity – the poet examines how we use bodies, both our own and other people’s, to chart our progress towards selfhood.

Andrew is senior lecturer at the Manchester Writing School at MMU and lives in Manchester.

This event has been curated by Chester Literature Festival 2019 Guest Director and Artist-in-Residence Imtiaz Dharker.


Approx 60 mins

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