Hollie McNish

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Hollie McNish
McNish at the 2016 Hay Festival
Background information
GenresPoetry, Slam Poetry, Spoken word
Years active2009–present

Hollie McNish (also known as Hollie Poetry), born 1984, is a British poet, author and spoken word artist.[1] She lives near Cambridge in the UK.[2][3]

McNish has published five books of poetry: Papers (2012), Cherry Pie (2015), Why I Ride (2015), Nobody Told Me (2016), and Plum (2017). Nobody Told Me won the 2016 Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry.[4][5] She released an album of spoken word and music, Versus (2014), recorded at Abbey Road Studios.[2] A play co-written with Sabrina Mahfouz, Offside, played in theatres[6][7] and was published as a book in 2017.

She makes a living as a full-time poet, doing readings, and organising poetry classes and workshops, mostly in schools, often for pupils who are struggling.[2]

Early life[edit]

Born in Reading in 1984 to Glaswegian parents,[8][9] McNish grew up in a village outside the town, attending the local comprehensive school.[10] She studied French and German at King's College, Cambridge, before studying part-time for a master's degree in international development and economics at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.[8][11][12]


A number of McNish's YouTube videos have gone viral and in 2015 her account had had over 4.1 million views.[2][13][14] She received major national airplay on the BBC, first in January 2015 on Huw Stephens' BBC Radio 1 show and then in May 2015 on BBC Radio 1Xtra as part of a spoken word event.[15][16]

Her spoken word album, Versus, was released in September 2014 under the pseudonym Hollie Poetry. She recorded it at Abbey Road Studios and was the first poet to do so.[2] It is "divided into two sides: one of straightforward spoken-word poetry, and the other featuring the same poems but with backing beats (courtesy of producers including Boxsta and Inja)".[2] The album Poetry versus Orchestra (2016) has McNish's poetry "in combination with music written by composer and conductor Jules Buckley and played by the Metropole Orkest."[17]

McNish has collaborated with Kate Tempest and George the Poet and they appeared on stage with her during her 2015 tour.[2] She co-wrote a play with Sabrina Mahfouz, Offside, that played in theatres in Harrogate[6] and at Edinburgh Festival[7] and was published as a book in 2017.

In 2016 BBC Radio 4 Woman's Hour broadcast a 7 part radio short documentary series hosted by McNish entitled Becoming a Mother: A Hot Cup of Tea with Hollie McNish.[18]

In an interview with McNish for The Guardian in June 2017, Alice O'Keeffe described her book Nobody Told Me as,

"a scrappy, chaotic, heartfelt portrait of new motherhood, from the moment McNish found out she was pregnant (in the toilets at King’s Cross station on her way to Glastonbury) to her daughter turning three. It includes diary entries, poems jotted in the dead of night and during nap-times, breathless musings on breastfeeding, sex after giving birth, and the state of the world."[10]

She makes a living as a full-time poet, doing readings, and organising poetry classes and workshops, mostly in schools, often for pupils who are struggling.[2]

In 2018 poet Rebecca Watts refused to review Plum for P. N. Review, instead writing a polemical article titled "Cult of the Noble Amateur" in which she said: "Plum is the product not of a poet but of a personality. I was supposed to be reviewing it, but to do so for a poetry journal would imply that it deserves to be taken seriously as poetry. Besides, I was too distracted by the pathological attitude of its faux-naïve author, and too offended by its editor’s exemplary bad faith, to ignore the broader questions it provokes."[19] This article subsequently received coverage in several national news outlets such as The Guardian[20] and the BBC.[21]



  • Papers. London: Greenwich Exchange, 2012. ISBN 978-1906075675.
  • Cherry Pie. Burning Eye, 2015. ISBN 978-1909136557. Illustrated by various artists and illustrators.
  • Why I Ride: Because a Bike Pedal Lasts Longer Than a Gas Tank. Brattleboro, VT: Green Writers Press, 2015. ISBN 978-0989310482.
  • Nobody Told Me: Poetry and Parenthood. London: Blackfriars, 2016. ISBN 9780349134352.
  • Plum. UK: Picador, 2017. ISBN 9781509815760.



  • Versus (2014, Yup! Records) – Double album as Hollie Poetry
  • Poetry versus Orchestra (Mo Black, 2016) – McNish with Jules Buckley and Metropole Orkest



  1. ^ Presenter: James Naughtie (15 June 2017). "Meet the Author: Hollie McNish". Meet the Author. BBC. BBC News Channel. Retrieved 21 June 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Bromwich, Kathryn (29 March 2015). "Hollie Poetry: woman versus world – one poem at a time". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 14 July 2016.
  3. ^ O'Keeffe, Alice (16 June 2017). "Hollie McNish: the politics and poetry of boyfriends, babies and breastfeeding". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 23 January 2018.
  4. ^ a b "Ted Hughes Award". poetrysociety.org.uk. Poetry Society. Retrieved 21 June 2017.
  5. ^ a b "Hollie McNish wins the Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry". poetrysociety.org.uk. Poetry Society. Retrieved 21 June 2017.
  6. ^ a b Love, Catherine (20 March 2017). "Offside: the shocking moment female footballers were banned for 50 years". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 23 January 2018.
  7. ^ a b "Offside". Futures Theatre. Retrieved 13 June 2018.
  8. ^ a b Dunleavy, Hannah (2 October 2014). "Rhyme and Reason". Standardissuemagazine.com. Retrieved 21 June 2017.
  9. ^ The Guardian: Poetry, breastfeeding and sex, by Emma Cook, 13 February 2016
  10. ^ a b O'Keeffe, Alice (17 June 2017). "The books interview: 'I always attracted mums and midwives. Now I get poetry lovers' Hollie McNish". The Guardian (Review section). London. p. 9. Retrieved 21 June 2017.
  11. ^ "Interview with Hollie McNish, poet and spoken word artist". Voice Magazine. Retrieved 22 June 2017.
  12. ^ "Hollie McNish - LinkedIn Profile". LinkedIn. LinkedIn Corporation. Retrieved 22 June 2017.
  13. ^ "News Release - Arts Foundation Awards 2015" (PDF). Arts Foundation. Retrieved 17 February 2015.
  14. ^ "Hollie McNish". YouTube. Retrieved 17 February 2015.
  15. ^ "Hue Stephens: Heavenly Records In The Studio". BBC Radio 1. BBC. Retrieved 14 July 2016.
  16. ^ "Words First: The launch event". BBC Radio 1XTRA. BBC. Retrieved 14 July 2016.
  17. ^ "New release – Poetry versus Orchestra: Friday October 7 2016", Metropole Orkest. Accessed 23 January 2018
  18. ^ Presenter: Jane Garvey; Producer: Erin Riley (25 October 2016). "Felicity Kendal, Icelandic feminism, Clothes on TV, Hollie McNish". Woman's Hour. 26:20 minutes in. BBC. BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 21 June 2017.
  19. ^ "PN Review Print and Online Poetry Magazine - The Cult of the Noble Amateur - Rebecca Watts - PN Review 239". www.pnreview.co.uk. Retrieved 13 June 2018.
  20. ^ Flood, Alison; Cain, Sian (23 January 2018). "Poetry world split over polemic attacking 'amateur' work by 'young female poets'". the Guardian. Retrieved 13 June 2018.
  21. ^ "Paapa Essiedu, Rebecca Watts and Don Paterson, A J Finn, Front Row - BBC Radio 4". BBC. Retrieved 13 June 2018.
  22. ^ "Hollie McNish, Poet & Spoken Word Artist". Arts Award Voice. Archived from the original on 2015-02-17. Retrieved 17 February 2015.
  23. ^ "Shortlisted Artists of the Fellowships 2015", The Arts Foundation. Accessed 23 January 2018.

External links[edit]