My poetry collections include Henry’s Clock (Smith/Doorstop) which won the Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection Prize and was overall winner of the Poetry Business Book & Pamphlet Competition, Frank Freeman’s Dancing School (Salt / Knives Forks & Spoons) which received an Arts Council England Writers’ Award, Selected Poems (Smith/Doorstop e-book) and Jam (Smith/Doorstop) which received an Arts Council Grant for the Arts. My poetry pamphlets include 14 Ways of Listening to the Archers, Emergency Rations, and Bike, Rain. I’ve had poems published in various magazines and anthologies including The North, The Rialto, PN Review, Stand, London Magazine, Lifesaving Poems (Bloodaxe), and The Forward Book of Poetry.

I was commissioned to write Jumpstart Poetry in the Secondary School (Poetry Society) during my time as Poetry Society poet-in-residence following the success of my students in poetry competitions. I have published on creative writing in the Times Educational Supplement and other journals, and have published short stories, criticism and poetics.

I was Deputy Head and English teacher at Maharishi School in Skelmersdale where my students were particularly successful at winning poetry competitions including the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Awards, WH Smith Young Writers, TES Young Poet, and Young Poets on the Underground. My teaching has been the subject of articles in the Guardian and the TES, and I have broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and the BBC World Service. A former Poetry Society poet-in-residence and TES Guest Poet, I have taught creative writing in higher education and have led courses and workshops for many organisations including the Arvon Foundation, the Poetry Society, the British Council, the Poetry School, universities and schools in the UK and abroad. I am a former Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Aston University. (There is more information on my teaching here.)

I was born in Birmingham and grew up in Birmingham and Kidderminster. Leaving school at sixteen, I did a variety of jobs before returning to full-time education, gaining degrees from Swansea University and the University of Warwick. In 2006 I completed a PhD in Poetry & Poetics. I learnt Transcendental Meditation, as taught by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, in the 1970s, trained as a teacher and taught TM in England and Wales. I was a founder member of the Poetry & Poetics Research Group convened by Robert Sheppard at Edge Hill University. I am now based in Cheltenham.


‘Cliff Yates is one of my favourite poets, writing in an idiom I’d like to call “Skelmersdale Mystic/Domestic.” If he was in a band that band would produce hit singles that would linger in your head for years and if he was a greengrocer his vegetables would always be startling shapes. There’s childhood here, and love, and a way of seeing the world with the wrappers off that is, ultimately, Yatesian’ – Ian McMillan

the guru’ – Guardian