My Story

My name is John Smallshaw. I never knew I was writer until poetry saved my life.

Having ghosted away most of my life, upon reaching 50, I woke up. I realised I was still alive and there might still be a lot of life ahead of me. And I wanted there to be a lot of life ahead of me. From that moment I decided to turn my life around.

With help from the Renewal Project and Crisis I was referred to the Life Skills Programme at the House of St. Barnabas: the place where visionaries make dreams come true. My poems had always kept me company but the House of St. Barnabas encouraged me to share them. Part of the programme involved attending a mock BBC interview and I thought it would be nice to share one there. They liked ‘A Fish Called Pythagoras’ so much they invited me to record for BBC Radio 4’s Arthur Smith’s Balham Bash. The show aired in May but can still be heard on my website:

Since then I have kept on writing and performing. Many people have told me that the humour and pathos in my poems strikes a chord with them and I hope with many others too. The poetry has given me new hope. I now want to share this hope with you.

I am available for live performances and readings. If you have any enquiries please refer to or email


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