The Promise Boat
Pamphlet, Wayleave 2017.
£5, available from Wayleave Press website.

These poems are concerned with the way our world can be other than it seems, where the certainties of belonging, borders, history and faith can shift, become illusory, and launch us into unsettling waters.

barlow-web-small The Folded Moment
Pamphlet, Wayleave 2014.
£5, available from Wayleave Press website.

Drawing on the experience of living in rural north Lancashire, Mike Barlow’s poems evoke the sense of another world, one in which he is both intruder and intruded upon. His woods, fells, river and stones with their weather and atmosphere are at times almost animate – wilful and contrary – whilst his own presence is ‘flawed by thought’.

smallnothingabouttohappen Nothing About to Happen
Pamphlet, 16pp. Wayleave 2012.
£3, available direct: please contact Mike using the Contact Form

“It seems to combine a fascination with the exuberant and independent life of words with a sense of richly-textured entropy.” Carole Coates

“Barlow achieves his effects by a careful choice of language, an attention to line length and rhythm, the introduction of a startling image in order to marinate his work in his unique and satisfying sensibility.” Alan Dent, Mistress Quickly’s Bed

smallcharmed-cover Charmed Lives
Smith/Doorstop, published April 2012.
ISBN 978-1- 906613-52-5-5

Charmed Lives: charmed as in surviving, as in getting away with it, as in possessed, as in fortunate. Whether drawing on direct or imaginary experience, works of art, literature or myth, the lives and moments in these poems are about being vulnerable, getting by and sometimes being at one with the world.

“Instead of relying on surface effects, Barlow’s work catches the attention firstly through skilful choice of apt yet surprising words and images and secondly because of his knack of finding subject matter which can engage, intrigue and startle his readers. He sometimes writes movingly and with a fresh eye about quite ordinary situations; but elsewhere he draws us into imagined worlds which are not so far from the real one and yet where no point of reference can truly be relied upon.”
Thomas Ovans, Londongrip.

“There’s a definite sense of the subversive in these poems, a kind of alternative worldview ‘from below'” Steve Spence, Stride

“muscular lyricism……from a mature and strongly articulated voice.” David Harmer, Orbis.

“He wants to hit that point where our certainties and securities break down because that’s where we are most alert. Importantly, Barlow doesn’t search self-consciously for this effect, rather it is part of his sensibility”. Alan Dent, Mistress Quickly’s Bed

small-amicable-numbers Amicable Numbers
Templar Poetry, 2008.
ISBN 978-1-906285-27-2Winner in the 2008 Templar Pamphlet Competition.
Available from

Poetry Book Society Pamphlet Choice
“There is a warmth running through the whole collection, a connectedness between each poem and a loose narrative arc – as if the pamphlet were a beautifully composed piece of music.” Poetry Book Society

Barlow’s voice is clear and direct, the space between the lines easily read. This clarity provides the perfect minimalist setting for his stand-out images and fresh perspectives” Julia Bird, Poetry London.

small-another-place Another Place
Salt Publishing, 2007.
ISBN 978-1-84471-397-4
Out of print.

“There’s directness and lightness of touch, an often brilliant deftness, in Mike Barlow’s poems, and an unusual warmth – all of it underwritten by vivid detail. But what he sees is only partly why his poems are so compelling; there’s also the sense he has of ‘living in two worlds at once’. What he imagines is alive – vital and often dangerous. It is what makes this collection outstanding”. Ann Sansom

“Whether he’s climbing in high winds, reading about captain Cook or birdwatching on Unst, Barlow’s poems all grapple, in the end, with this question of ‘real life’ – what it is and what lies outside it.” Sarah Crown, The Guardian

“Out of the commonplace practice of contemporary poetry he has shaped something utterly unlike the work of any other present-day writer. This is originality of the very best kind: unforced, unobtrusive, unselfconscious.” Alan Dent, The Penniless Press

small-difference Living on the Difference
Smiths Doorstop, 2004.
ISBN 1-902382-63-3
Available from

Winner of the Poetry Business Book and Pamphlet Competition 2003; short-listed for the Jerwood Aldeburgh Prize for Best First Collection 2004.

“This collection has cumulative power, cohesion, and a particular, individual voice. The poems bring in a wide field of reference, which deepens and adds layers of understanding and meaning.” Gillian Clarke

“Time and again, in poems that comment and build on each other, the reader encounters Barlow’s questing intelligence and, best of all, a refusal to accept or offer easy answers.” Kate Keogan, Acumen

“..takes a slice of life and stares hard at the layers. And this is no mean feat – there are some enviable moments of bravura descriptive writing…” Clive Allen, Exultations and Difficulties.