The Poor Rogues Hang

By .

Now gather round and lend an ear,
For there’s a ballad I would sing,
Of famous Captain Avery
And how he went a-pirating.

Brave, anarchic folk heroes or cruel, black-hearted villains? In the long violent history of piracy, the men and women who roamed the oceans under the black flag have been both of these and all shades of chivalry and chicanery in between.

Now Thomas Tyrrell’s debut collection, The Poor Rogues Hang, written with the rhythmic swagger of the ballad and the shanty, retells the stories of the intrigues, robberies and murders of the most notorious pirates, freebooters, sea rovers, corsairs, buccaneers, marauders and all-round bad eggs from the ‘golden age’ of piracy and beyond.

You may have heard of Blackbeard or Captain Kidd, but did you know about Grainne Mhaol, the Irish pirate queen? Did you know pirates once kidnapped Julius Caesar? Tyrrell illuminates their savage, surprising and little-known careers using a pleasing variety of poetic forms, numbering among them ballads, ballades, blank verse, fourteeners, quatrains, sapphics, sonnets, syllabics, and even free verse.

So splice the mainbrace, set sail and join him as he delves into the sour history of piracy’s entanglement with the slave trade, the surprisingly democratic way a pirate ship was run, and the social injustices and human failings that drove men to a life from which there was no turning back until the inevitable violent end. Drink up me hearties, yo ho!

THOMAS TYRRELL lives in Birmingham, UK, a disappointingly long distance away from the sea. He compensates by affecting a distinctly piratical beard, though unlike Captain Teach he has yet to set it on fire. He has twice won the Terry Hetherington poetry award, contributes to the Lovecraftian poetry journal Spectral Realms, and regularly performs his own work at showcases, festivals and open mics. He has a PhD in English Literature from Cardiff University.


Thomas Tyrrell’s poetry is unique; he is an architect of words, carefully planning and building each poem. The subject of his poetry is most unique, truly entertaining in their stories. Tyrrell is a master of this genre. His poetry should not be passed over, but widely read.” – JOHN ELIOT, poet, author, literary critic for SWND magazine

“Thomas Tyrell is an award-winning poet and performer, but his name will be a new one to many readers. This varied collection of seafaring poems and ballads, deceptively simple and consistently gripping, should win him many new admirers.” – J ANDREW TAYLOR, author of Walking Wounded: The Life and Poetry of Vernon Scannell

“Tyrrell’s turn of phrase is sharp as a cutlass; cutting through stories we feel we know or half know but lending them a delightfully fresh approach. You can all but breathe the salt and feel the fresh sea spray. These poems dance a hornpipe to a lively rhythm. With a deft use of language, they master jaunty, clever verse that leaves us feet-tapping with their antics. Yet this collection is far more than pirate pranks and shanties. Ghost aristocratic captains and gallows-fearing castaways weave their dark way through this clever concoction of pirate stories that make us want to take to the high seas, sharing the author’s sense of literary adventure.” – SHEILA SCHOFIELD LARGE, poet, author, co-founder of Limousin Laureates

”The Poor Rogues Hang displays many of Tyrrell’s virtues as a poet: his elegant manipulation of rhyme and metre; his evocative imagery, derived from a meticulous choice of words and phrases; and his keen sense of terror and the supernatural. In poems long and short, in ballads and lyrics and even a bit of drama, Tyrrell has produced a potent little gem of weird poetry that will linger in the reader’s mind long after it is finished.” – ST Joshi, Lovecraft scholar, editor of Spectral Realms magazine