Michael Swan

Michael Swan
Michael Swan

Michael Swan works in English language teaching and applied linguistics. He has been writing poetry for many years, driven no doubt by an unconscious need to prove that grammarians have souls. His poems have been published widely in magazines, and have won a number of prizes. He clings to the belief that it is possible to write good poetry that is neither difficult nor boring, and he often finds humour a useful tool in dealing with a seriously confusing universe.

Michael’s first collection, When They Come For You, was published by Frogmore Press in 2003 and was very well received. The response that pleased him most came from a French friend: ‘Merci pour la simplicité malicieuse de tes textes’. Will Daunt, in Envoi, had a similar reaction: ‘The beauty of Michael Swan’s writing is the artifice beneath its deliberate simplicity. … The careless may miss the rich seams of absurdity and irony’. Catherine Smith, in The New Writer, called When They Come For You ‘a sharp, wryly observed collection, intelligent and perceptive’, adding ‘There’s a nicely surreal edge to much of the work, but it’s poetry that remains open and accessible’. Jim Burns, writing in Ambit, was not quite so overwhelmed, but conceded that some of the poems had a ‘loose, rhythmic flow’; he didn’t say of what.

Michael also enjoys translating poetry, and won the Times Stephen Spender competition for a version of Rilke’s Orpheus, Eurydike, Hermes in 2005.

He is now looking for a publisher for his second collection.


They don’t die
after the balcony scene,
the night of love,
such sweet sorrow
and the rest.

On the contrary,
they save up for a deposit,
and she gets a job
at Marks and Spencer’s
till the first kid comes along.

He gets promoted to area manager,
and then head of marketing.

Tennis at the weekend.
Costa Brava or Scotland in the summer.
One year, the Seychelles.

A good retirement package.
They move to Dunstable.

They see the grandchildren quite often.
She knits things for them.
He teaches them tricks,
and wiggles his ears
to make them laugh.

Not such a good story?
Ask him. Ask her.

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