Ballad of Jamie Allan is a folk opera by the composer John Harle, with a libretto by Tom Pickard who has written a book of the same name. The opera premiered at The Sage Gateshead in 2005

they said no jail could hold me
at the age of twenty-five
but now I am past seventy
and chained up to my lies…

Ballad of Jamie Allan recounts the true adventures of an eighteenth-century gypsy musician who lived on the English–Scottish Borders and died in Durham jail, serving a life sentence for stealing a horse. Though once patronized by dukes and earls, Allan lost their support as his wayward behavior began to exceed their own.

Drawing on newspaper accounts and court depositions, Pickard's book brings the ballad tradition of stark reportage to life with his own genius for the form. Through the words of his cohorts and contemporaries, Allan emerges as a spirit of the Borders, that wild and historically lawless region where rivers and fells set the stage for his captures and escapes.

'the most thrilling poetry of book I’ve read in quite a while'. Ange Mlinko Poetry Foundation

BOJA was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry 2008. Read NBCC review by Oscar Villalon.