Donations are essential to keep Write Out Loud going    

Poets pay tribute to Paul Blackburn - a founding father of Write Out Loud - after death at festival

entry picture

Write Out Loud has been saddened to hear of the sudden death of Paul Blackburn, a leading figure in the north-west poetry scene for many years, who also played a key part in the growth and success of this website. He was a man of many talents, including compere, performer, poet, writer, singer, musician, workshop leader, film maker and publisher. His involvement with Write Out Loud was from 2005 to 2011. During that time he instigated and ran various regular and one-off events including World Book Day 2008 in Rochdale, and the BBC Radio 4 NW heat slam in 2010. He also helped organise and participated in poetry festivals in Bordeaux.

He never severed his connection with Write Out Loud, faithfully crossing the Pennines each year with fellow north-west poets to attend the annual Write Out Loud poetry jam at Marsden jazz festival in Yorkshire.

Paul Emberson, Write Out loud board member and technical director, said: "Paul contributed hugely to the development of the Write Out Loud website in its early years and his influence is still very much felt in the site today. He brought tremendous energy, wit and insight to our meetings, often held in hotel bars around the north. He predicted what poets would want from a site like Write Out Loud long before it had the user base it has today and had a great ability to shift between thinking as a poet and as a web creator. 

"Paul took on roles of website management, moderator, feature innovator and often helped me debug issues on behalf of users. In more recent years he would always come to say 'Hi' when we crossed paths at the annual Marsden jazz festival poetry jams. I was deeply saddened to hear of his passing."

After leaving Write Out Loud, Paul Blackburn edited and wrote for Wise Badger magazine. Although a critical success, the magazine had to close after two years due to financial problems. He later chaired the Bolton arts and heritage organisation Live From Worktown, working alongside his great friend Dave Morgan, a co-founder of Write Out Loud with Julian Jordon.  

Alongside running various workshops over the years, Paul made several appearances on the Channel 4 TV programme The Word with Nat Clare. More recently he was commissioned to write poems for, and appeared on, Sky TV. He also made contributions to local and national radio programmes and appeared on regional TV stations.

A wave of tributes from poetry friends in the north-west have quickly appeared on social media. Dave Morgan said on behalf of Live From Worktown: “We are deeply sorry to announce that our dear friend and colleague, Paul Blackburn, passed away in his sleep on Saturday night. Nat Clare, Louise Coulson and myself dropped him off at his hotel at 10pm after seeing Roger McGough, Gerry Potter and Jackie Hagan at the Winter Gardens, Morecambe. We had had an hilarious day at the poetry festival. Paul was in top form and we left him in good spirits. Our thoughts go out to Rita, Martin and his family.”

Gerry Potter said: “Sad to hear of the death of Paul Blackburn, what a lovely bloke. Somebody intrinsic in building and enabling a scene so many peoples would pass through and benefit from. A Beat off the beaten track and able with words and music, to make you inwardly think and laugh out loud. I loved Paul and his gang, I’d call them the Boltonian poetry posse. I enjoyed that they came from a particular sense of ‘somewhere’, they twinkled with that 1960s/70s anarcho-socialistic … I so readily and excitably recognise. All of them knowing art, whatever it may be, whatever its form, belongs to anybody who wants to do it.”

Another poet and writer, Andy N, said: “I first met Paul at either Write Out Middleton or Write Out Sale somewhere around 2008, and always found him an entertaining and funny guy to meet and see/hear read. The energy he put into the early days of Write Out Loud and later the work he did with Live from Worktown /Preeta Press deserves respect from everybody.”

Former Write Out Loud Bolton compere and poet Jeff Dawson said: “It's fair to say I wouldn't have done half the things I have done without his and others encouragement since those early days when we met at Write Out Loud. He will be very sadly missed.”


Paul Blackburn's funeral will take place on Tuesday 10 October at 12 noon at Astley Bridge Baptist Church, Eden Street, Bolton. All welcome. Flowers - Family and very close friends only. There will be an opportunity to donate to 'The British Heart Foundation' at the service. 1pm Burial at Astley Bridge Cemetery, Eden Street, Bolton. All welcome. 2pm The Wake - Heaton Cricket Club, Church Road, Bolton. All welcome.





◄ It's National Poetry Day! What does this year's theme of 'Refuge' mean to you?

Deadline nears for National Poetry Competition ►

Please consider supporting us

Donations from our supporters are essential to keep Write Out Loud going


Profile image

Stephen Mellor

Sun 1st Oct 2023 16:37

Probably the best laughter-filled poetry night I was ever fortunate enough to be involved in, was at The White Horse in Hebden Bridge (many many moons ago), where Paul led the crazyness he so loved.
Paul never made you feel that you were the outsider in the poetry world, and the fact that he always gave encouragement made me feel that I wasn't a total fool in trying to write.
I'll be at Marsden on Sunday (for the first time in far too long) to help celebrate Paul, but it will also give me the opportunity to say 'thanks' to the Marsden Poetry Jam on a very personal level. Without Paul's voice, who knows where I'd be now.

Profile image

ZTK Space

Sun 1st Oct 2023 13:59

.............tellin ya..........

.........................chuffin lightweight!

Profile image

ZTK Space

Sun 1st Oct 2023 13:57

...........chuffin lightweight will do anything to get outta work.

................he prolly havin it large at the Old Boars Head with Peter (low rent glamour (you'll never be noetic-fret dude)) laughing at the best.

...........WHICH WE ALL ARE.

Maybe I touch base with Manchester again.
see you in the Old Boars Head.


Profile image

John F Keane

Sat 30th Sep 2023 12:09

I think it would be a fine thing to produce a special memorial edition of Networds, celebrating Paul and his contribution to NW grassroots poetry.

For those that don't know, Networds is an e-zine promoting Bolton and NW writing which Paul helped to found and manage.

Profile image

Aaron Murdoch

Fri 29th Sep 2023 23:46

It was a huge shock to hear of his death. I remember his appearances at the Dead Good Poets Society at our old Everyman Bistro venue and our Blackburn House residency.
I think of his snapping Jazz fingers. Funniest memory was at Blackburn House. Paul and a few others from Bolton took the performing stage... and proceeded to fire imitation firearms at us! I remember thinking "Wish I'd thought of that!".
This was during my short lived acrostic phase which... yeah.
I saw the pictures of him happy at the Morecambe festival. And then a couple of days later his death was announced.
Always meant to catch up. Had no idea he'd done so much.
Thanks for making this page. All the best to his family and love.

Nicola Beckett

Fri 29th Sep 2023 20:30

So sad to read this. A talented guy who will be missed by many. I remember him from the old days and the early days of write out loud. This site is a saviour to many. I last saw him 3 years ago just after lockdown and he remembered a poem I had written and had published in an ezine during lockdown. So clever of him to remember. Rest in peace Paul. X

Profile image

Angel whisperer indigo child x

Fri 29th Sep 2023 19:31

I logged in to write out loud as I have done for the past four years

After reading a beautiful tribute I tried to hold back tears

A photo of a gentleman of whom I never met

A rather sombre feeling an ache of slight regret

Learning of this man I kind of felt at loss

To hear of what he did for me... to learn our paths will never cross

His wonderful contributions to keep the story tellers creating

Because of his existence we are writers in the making

Paul Blackburn

To hear of your dedication and your role in write out loud

I'm honoured to have discovered you

Blessed and feeling proud

Your physical life this time on earth has sadly passed

Your words they did not die for eternity they shall last

Love and healing sent may you rest in peace 🙏

Profile image

Pascal Desmond

Fri 29th Sep 2023 18:44

I am saddened to hear that Paul has died. I met him at Spotlight in Lancaster on a few occasions when he seemed to bring half of Blackburn with him. I have a happy memory of Paul.
Cherish the happy memories,
Banish the sad ones.

Profile image

chris yates

Thu 28th Sep 2023 12:02

So sad to hear about Paul he was a giant among the poets and so kind to us up coming poets he had time for everyone who ever you were he will be sadly missed he was a genuine lover of life.

Profile image


Wed 27th Sep 2023 17:46

This is such sad news. I feel like I'm repeating myself because I've commented on a number of threads about this loss, but it takes some time to process that it's actually happened. I also think the magnitude of our loss needs to be acknowledged. Paul was so well loved in the poetry scene and so active and supportive of everyone.

I have very warm memories of Paul. Can remember once jumping off a commuter train to Manchester to throw my arms round him in Bolton and then jump back on the train. He was very bemused by it... I probably ticked him off a bit in my early days on WOL but he forgave me for it...I hope..

Profile image

Uilleam Ó Ceallaigh

Wed 27th Sep 2023 11:39

Glad to have met you Paul; thanks for everything.

Profile image

Freda Davis

Wed 27th Sep 2023 09:45

So sad to hear Paul has died. It's good to know he had a great last evening with friends at what sounds like an amazing gig.
We should recognise the enormous contribution of Write Out Loud to the Northern poetry scene in promoting so many open mics around Lancashire and into Yorkshire.
I remember him at Hebden Bridge and always at Marsden. Always with a smile and a joke in his readings.

Profile image

John F Keane

Tue 26th Sep 2023 08:36

So sad to hear. But we can take solace from the fact that Paul died at a poetry event he was greatly enjoying (and to which he was doubtless adding his inimitable wit).

If you wish to post a comment you must login.

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

Find out more Hide this message