W.N. (Bill) Herbert is a highly versatile poet who writes both in English and Dundonian Scots. He writes phantasmagorical satires, in which real and imagined characters wreak havoc with cherished myths. Sometimes reflective, sometimes subversively mischievous, he registers or rails against displacement and resettlement. But he can also be tenderly lyrical, offering fond homage (as in his chocolate mousse parody of Burns) as well as terrier wit. The Guardian has described his poetry as ‘a weird mix of Desperate Dan, MacDiarmid and Dostoyevsky’. He is Professor of Poetry and Creative Writing at New-castle University. He lives in a converted lighthouse overlooking the River Tyne at North Shields. Pamela Robertson-Pearce him in December 2007 in his study at the very top of the house, the walls of which are criss-crossed with salvaged ship timbers.
He reads six poems in this video taken from his collections Cabaret McGonagall (1996), The Laurelude (1998), The Big Bumper Book of Troy (2002) and Bad Shaman Blues (2006), all published by Bloodaxe: ‘Corbandie’, ‘The Black Wet’, ’To a Mousse’, ’Song of the Longboat Boys’, ‘Slow Animals Crossing’ and ‘Bad Shaman Blues’. This film is from the DVD-anthology IN PERSON: 30 POETS, filmed by Pamela Robertson-Pearce & edited by Neil Astley (Bloodaxe Books, 2008).