McMillan stands down from poet laureate role, after coaching town’s emerging new talent

Barnsley’s Ian McMillan has stood down as the council’s poet laureate following three years in the role, but the discerning listener may still be able to detect his influence in the future.

Thursday, 7th March 2019, 1:05 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th March 2019, 1:08 pm
Cultural centre: Barnsley town hall

Emerging star Eloise Unerman, 19, from Goldthorpe has been acting as apprentice to the writer and broadcaster in the lead up to his departure.

She is one of the town’s new literary talents, with a growing reputation and awards for her work, but has been learning from the town’s master of the spoken word.

During the last three years, McMillan has written 18 poems specifically for the council, on topics as diverse as Egyptology and brass bands, with Coun Roy Miller telling the authority’s ruling Cabinet, which has paid tribute to his dedication: “Nothing has been too strange”.

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The role was created as a platform to promote the Hear My Voice initiative, which aims to promote literature and create opportunities for the Barnsley community to tell their own stories.

Coun Miller said: “Ian has been a great champion for Barnsley. He is already a freeman of our borough and all we can do is thank him most sincerely.”

The poet himself said: “It has been a fantastic privilege.

“This town is doing such a lot, it always punches above its weight.

“Years ago, if you said ‘Barnsley’, people would laugh. People are seeing it as a cultural, artistic centre where people want to come to work,” he said.