Books & Other Publications

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Another Last Word (The Red Ceilings Press, 2021) Available here.

‘I laughed out loud as well as now and then wincing. Individually they’re like when some cartoons become art, like ‘Lost Consonants’ in the Guardian, but they’re even more than that altogether, the way the poems work with each other. I could see you reading them in Dictionary Corner on Eight Out of Ten Cats Does Countdown, though you’d have to win X Factor first, to be invited on’ – Peter Sansom

Birmingham Canal Navigation (Knives Forks and Spoons Press, 2020). Available here.

Featured Title in The North, January 2021.

‘If Roy Fisher famously said “Birmingham’s what I think with”, Cliff Yates would probably say “Birmingham’s who I eat with”. These lucid and nimble poems effortlessly thread in and out of the quotidian, always alert to the transformative power of the everyday seen clearly. History is here too, but faced lightly, alongside tributes to key influences like Fisher, O’Hara, Raworth, Sheppard. Yates’s art is a fully embodied one (look out for the hilarious Tai Chi Sprout Stalk Form!) which moves – exuding a wry, wise vitality entirely its own’ – Scott Thurston

Jam (Smith/Doorstop, 2016) which received an Arts Council England Grant for the Arts. Available here.

‘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

‘In his own way I think the view of England that Cliff portrays is as distinctive as those created by Hughes or Larkin…It is a vision of in-between places in which nothing much happens or promises to: where the horses snack on bike chains, boats are called Freedom, dogs run sideways, and the seaside dogs are virtual’ – Anthony Wilson, Lifesaving Poems (Bloodaxe, 2015)

‘Billy Collins claims that the most productive reaction to a poem is jealousy, and it should be clear by now that many poems here make me wish I’d written them’ – Stephen Payne, Sabotage Review

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Frank Freeman’s Dancing School, revised edition (Knives, Forks & Spoons Press, 2015) which received an Arts Council England Writers Award. Available here. See below for first edition.

‘Cliff Yates’s poems are among the most exciting, challenging and unpredictable of any being written now or for donkey’s years’ – Peter Sansom

‘A sort of martial art: it stands there looking slight and friendly but in reality it’s using the reader’s own strength against herself till she ends up flat on the mat not knowing what hit her’ – Janet Fisher

‘I enjoyed Cliff Yates’ Frank Freeman’s Dancing School… There’s [an] unsettling, strangeness to his poetry. At first sight it can appear to transplant something of Geoff Hattersley’s style from South Yorkshire to the Midlands, but it soon becomes clear that it’s heading somewhere rather different. Yates gives seemingly plain language the smallest of tweaks to suddenly switch perspectives again and again. It’s a book I’ll be coming back to’ – Matt Merritt, Polyolbion


Selected Poems ebook (Smith/Doorstop, 2014). Brings together poems from Henry’s Clock, Frank Freeman’s Dancing School and Bike, Rain, many of them revised. Available here.

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Bike, Rain (Knives Forks and Spoons Press, 2013). Available here.

‘Overall, the effect of reading these poems repeatedly is restful – like being with a companion who is friendly, humorous, questioning, existentially anxious in a daily sort of way’ – Fiona Moore, Sabotage Review


Frank Freeman’s Dancing School (Salt Publishing, 2009), which received an Arts Council England Writers Award. (See above for revised edition.)


Emergency Rations (Smith/Doorstop, 2004)

‘Yates is an absolute master… he stretches and dares you to properly understand what you are reading. He makes you want to read and re-read his work.…. Technically stunning and always there are more questions than answers’ – Steve Anderson, New Hope International.

‘Philosophy runs smudged into daily life…he offers us the surprise born of unconstrained freedom….that combination of precision with the seemingly random that gives this short collection such expansive range’ – Ben Felsenburg, Incwriters.

‘If you like poetry firmly rooted in the real world, the everyday, this is not the book for you. You will be seduced into thinking it is, because everyday situations seem to be what is being described, but you will soon find that prisms and mirrors, flashbacks and flash-forwards, parallel universes etc. come into play. You are never where you think you are, which for me is one of the purposes of poetry’ – Lyn Moir, Sphinx Chapbook Review Magazine.


Henry’s Clock (Smith/Doorstop, 1999) which received the Aldeburgh First Collection Prize and was overall winner of the Poetry Business Book and Pamphlet Competition. Available here.

‘Poets like Cliff Yates only come along every so often, like eclipses or rare migrating birds, and, like an eclipse or a rare migrating bird, Cliff Yates should be gazed at, parked near, and written about. People often talk about poets being fresh, and they mean fresh like bread, likely to go stale. Cliff Yates is fresh like the very first crack of dawn is fresh: unique, unrepeatable, full of promise’ – Ian McMillan

‘An authentic new voice. Funny poems with a strong social conscience: accessible, quirky and memorable’ – Aldeburgh Poetry Festival


14 Ways of Listening to the Archers (Smith/Doorstop, 1994)

First edition, 1999.


Revised edition, 2004.

Jumpstart Poetry in the Secondary School (Poetry Society 1999, 2004). Written for those working in secondary schools, this handbook has been used successfully by teachers and writers working at all levels, including with primary school children and with experienced and inexperienced adult writers. Available here.

Jumpstart is the best aid to the teaching of poetry since Sandy Brownjohn’s work of the 1980s” – Gordon Wilson in The Teacher.

Jumpstart is a classic of its kind: inventive, inspiring and instructive” – Andrew Motion.


Oranges: Poems from Maharishi School, ed. Cliff Yates, foreword by Andrew Motion (Maharishi School Press, 2001) a Times Educational Supplement ‘Book of the Week’.

‘The poems in this book are of an astonishingly high standard…at least two of the poets here are distinctive enough to warrant books of their own. This is where the difference is made between these pieces and poems produced in hundreds of one-off workshops with poets…few teachers or pupils have the breadth of reading to know when a poem is made better by a particular adjustment, and the editing skills to know how to make those changes’ – Siân Hughes, Times Educational Supplement.

‘Jaw-droppingly mature verse’ – Guardian

Anthropocene, The North, The Rialto, PN Review, Stand, London Magazine, International Times, Morning Star, Smith’s Knoll, Tears in the Fence, Great Works, Ink Sweat and Tears, And Other Poems, Cake, Dog, The Echo Room, Foolscap, Gists and Piths, Harry’s Hand, Iron, Antiphon, Liar Republic, Litter, M58, Molly Bloom, NATE News, Neon Highway, NOON: journal of the short poem, One Hand Clapping, Orbis, Outposts, Oxford Magazine, Pages, Peggy’s Blue Skylight, Poetry News (Poetry Society), Scratch, Seam, Shearsman, Smoke, Stride Magazine, Sunk Island Review, The Slab, The Times Educational Supplement, Uncompromising Positions, Under the Radar, The Wide Skirt, One Hand Clapping, New Boots and Pantisocracies: Postcards from Malthusia.

According to John James: a poem with many authors, ed. Kelvin Corcoran (Shearsman, 2018)
The Golden Book: fifty years of Arvon (Arvon Foundation, 2018)
In Transit: poems of travel, ed. Sarah Jackson & Tim Youngs (Emma Press, 2018)
One for the Road, ed. Helen Mort & Stuart Maconie (Smith/Doorstop, 2017)
Lifesaving Poems, ed. Anthony Wilson (Boodaxe, 2015)
An Educated Desire: for Robert Sheppard at sixty (Knives, Forks and Spoons, 2015)
Laurie Lee: Curator of Eccentricity (Yew Tree Press, 2014)
A First Poetry Book, ed. Pie Corbett and Gaby Morgan (Macmillan, 2012)
Not in So Many Words: poems and commentaries on poems (Smith/Doorstop, 2005)
Plant Care: A festschrift for Mimi Khalvati ed. E.A. Markham (Linda Lee Books, 2004)
Writers’ Awards 2003 (Arts Council England, 2003)
The Forward Book of Poetry 2001 (Forward Publishing, 2001)
Listening to the Birth of Crystals ed. A. Taylor & A. Corkish (Paula Brown, 2003)
A Fresh Look and a Fresh Listen: National Poetry Day 2000 (Poetry Society, 2000)
Journeys: National Poetry Day 2001 (Poetry Society, 2001)
Draft # 2 (Albert Poets, 1995)
Fat City (Dog)
Spoils: The Poetry Business Anthology, 1991 (Smith/Doorstop, 1991)
Against the Grain ed. Ian McMillan (Thomas Nelson, 1989)

‘Invisible’ in Manchester Stories 5: Caesura, ed. Ra Page (City Life supplement, April 2003)
‘Nowhere Man’ in Hyphen, ed. Ra Page (Comma Press, 2003)

‘Flying: A Poetics’ in Troubles Swapped for Something Fresh: Manifestos and Non Manifestos, ed. Rupert Loydell (Salt, 2009)

BBC Radio 3 ‘Words and Music’ feature on Coventry and Transport, BBC Contains Strong Language Festival (3rd October 2021)
BBC Radio 4 ‘The Learning Curve’ (12th October, 1999)
BBC World Service series ‘Working Out the Words’ (for which I acted as consultant; Spring 2001)
Poems broadcast on BBC Radio 1 Mark Radcliffe Show

‘Inspiring Young People to Write Poems’ in Making Poetry Happen: Transforming the Poetry Classroom ed. Sue Dymoke, Anthony Wilson, Andrew Lambirth & Myra Barrs. (Bloomsbury, 2015).

English in Education, Writing in Education, Arvon Journal, Secondary English Magazine, Times Educational Supplement (including ‘Poems for Refugees’ feature May-July 2002, & as Guest Poet for TES Young Poet, autumn 1999), Launch into Poetry: Lesson Plans for Secondary School Members (Poetry Society), Poetry Class (Poetry Society website), Primary English Magazine, Speech and Drama, Poetry News (Poetry Society).