Julie Maclean was born in Bristol, UK, and is now based on the Surf Coast, Australia. She spends part of every year in the UK visiting friends and family.


Inspired by the Goons she wrote her first nonsense poem aged 5 and won her first poetry prize aged 9 for reciting GM Hopkins’ Spring.  


A former teacher of English, Dance and Drama in secondary schools and colleges, she has also prepared refugees and new arrivals for mainstream study and has taught Literacy and Numeracy through art and music.


As a student in the sixties and early seventies she picked fruit, made L plates in a factory, pulled beer, fitted Clark’s shoes, cleaned toilets and survived as a cocktail waitress at Butlins.


With her son now at Uni, she can focus on poetry and short fiction when she’s not writing love stories for couples marrying along the Great Ocean Road or engaged in university study.


As a finalist in the Whitmore Press Prize in 2010 she performed in the Poetry Idol Final in Melbourne in front of Les Murray. 


In 2013 a radio play in which Plath and Hughes reunite on the Queen Mary 2 and which was given a special mention by Bristol Theatre Review as ‘intriguing’, was produced by Pulse Radio, Victoria (Aus). 


She is working on her second full collection of poetry, a chapbook and a collection of short fiction.



When I saw Jimi


Julie Maclean


ISBN 978-1-909357-24-2


Publication 8th June 2013




216 x 138 mm


68 pages


£7.99 + P&P UK and Europe














Losing it to Hendrix


When Moog was in vogue

soft pop   beginnings of cool


I wore a pink Lennon cap

and caught the number 8


bus to see Jimi at the Bristol

Colston Hall


When he dropped to his knees making

rough love to the white


Flying V with the psychedelic motif  

I screamed  


then swooned when he bent it

from behind




Golden Boy


We used to walk to school

together fast    a shock of blonde

you’d sweep across your face

Yapped of Jagger, Cohen

school caps, bikes,



These days on Friends

you’re grey and bald,

fitted for new teeth, a by pass


Now we compare the colour

of the faces of dead fathers

yours black, mine yellow


Your mother crawled the floor

banged her head against a chair

Mine crawled the walls


Your dad never smacked

Mine smacked me once

Mothers all the time

Knocking sense into us

And out


















Glacial Karma


Jumping out under

the blade-slap

whop-whop rotors

of the helicopter

you did the blackest

diamond run

clicking tips Rossignol red

carving ghost tracks

into the soft face of Franz Josef


In the cafe we kept

our beanies on

cloud-breath evaporated,  

slicks formed from boot-drip  

on the timber floor

in the air hot chips

I drank chocolate

melting to marshmallow

at the thought of you

taunting that giant


On the bus back down

the wind screamed up

windows splintered

under hundred mile an hour spleen

bus heaving its warning    

plates shifting in glacial memoir

or was it humour?


Later, at Happy Hour

we drank Bourbon

Ice clinking its thawing ways

against the sides of thick glass

‘Julie Maclean, one of the major new talents shortlisted for the prestigious international Crashaw Prize in 2012   ‘… writers we believe have produced superb first collections of poetry.’  

Chris Hamilton-Emery

(Salt, UK)


‘Voted a winner in the Orbis 159 Readers’ Award, attracted comments about the ‘wonderful use of language’; ‘brilliant… writing. Succinct (with) memorable images…beautifully structured…irresistible. A remarkable collection which conjures up England in the 60’s in such vivid detail with its stories and descriptions that yes, you really will remember being there - or long to go back. And if those of a younger generation wish they had experienced that period, here’s the ideal opportunity.‘

Carole Baldock

(Editor, Orbis and Kudos)


‘These poems have an appreciable crispness, surprise, intensity and clarity. Maclean has broken through to that rare space – call it a maturity of perception, a keen sense of image – that most poets never get to. This is strong and enlivening work.’

       David Brooks

(Southerly, Australia)


‘This is poetry that you won’t want to stop reading. Its attractions are manifold: the milieu of the swinging sixties; love affairs that are by turns erotic, comic, tender and violent; unsentimental and powerful elegies; and an urgent attention to the surprising and plangent condition   of our lives.'

Maria Takolander

(writer, literary critic)

Best Friends


Like twins fixed in Sixties fantasy

we held hands with John and Paul

and practised kissing on our

arms and sang ‘Downtown’ on

                                         Top of the Pops

She had cats in a messy house,

her own TV, Fab magazine, a mum who

didn’t look in her bag or check her Maths

or smell her breath for Woodbine smoked in

the sheds. Linda was the good girl; loved, trusted

                                          But I got the boys

On the way home from school one night,

in young dumb rage about God knows what,

I hit her over the head with my umbrella,

to smash her down, feel the edge

Fat Bag      Placid Cow      Dreary Bitch


Years on in different hemispheres,

headlines on a double-page spread,

Hardy tragedy in tabloid attitude

Woman Dies in Childbirth

Hard news    Brilliantly upstaged


And in quieter times now,

I imagine what sort of mother

she might have made,

like her own,

kind and there,

peaceful at home,


But as a coward,

traitor; sharp, hard,

guilty in my exile,

I could never be the same




Driving down to Lyme


dingy post-war homes pebble-dash

the dream of being the woman    

out on the Cobb waiting,          

waiting for him to come home


The museum shrinks, it’s half term

Keen mums furnishing maps, pens,

raincoats buttoned to the neck

getting in the way


In groups we go on tour to hunt

icthyosaur skulking in the cliff

We are Mary Anning stumbling across

eons   Victorian men who would be kings


Half-moon ammonite, crenellate,

soft grey      That is my prize

Two million years in the pocket


An outlet pours curious jetsam onto

this black strand    Green glass

for  smoothing, small windows

spanning one hundred years


Delicate willow pattern

survives     Seventies ceramic

emerald catches the eye


In the background small boys

hack hack hack at stone

hoping for the jawbone

some fabulous find



Baby can’t


don’t ask me to suck, lick

you just want to choke,

break me


if you force it

my skin won’t hold


then you’ll see

nothing inside except babies, tiny dead babies,

all mine


this baby wants the warm nuzzle dripping milk

not your bitter shot cold gluck

poking fun at my

empty space



Cover Lennon Cap head photo amend Jimi cover option 9781909357242 WEB dreamstime_xs_2718827 amend

Blood and Bone


You feed the garden now

Remember that day

our first bird camouflaged

in the dusty feathers of the



Pinky cap nodding      

Seeds appearing for the first time  

You fed bacon scraps to the maggies    

Scaly fingers

clawed in the shadow

of the hammer’s grip    

Hands, by the way, I love


Planting stakes in the west

Grosse Lisse were Aquarian children

Laterals were dreadlocks

You would not tame them

Murder you said


Three springs ago it was a moonscape

then grasses nosed through

Lines of purpling beetroot

Slicks of onion   Squatting mignon


I love to watch you work

The way you kneel,

gathering everything

into the core of you

Intense   Silver-quick

One eye always on the clock


Your back is stiffening      

There’s harvest in the making        

It wasn’t always this way





Greek Theatre over Baghdad


Achillean boys

in fresh overalls

tuck photos

into secret folds

of survival vests

like they’ve seen

in a Hollywood movie

then sortie

to face

the night-borne shadow

of a high priority




On designated cue

Black Hawks

wokka wokka,

hovering five in line

peering through

the myopic green

of the night lens

sniffing out

the enemy’s sweat


Blades quarrel



wavering birds

spinning out

of rehearsal

into another show