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Your Space Or Mine

Roger Robinson: Poetry for the people

Roger Robinson’s poems inspire and console, they bear witness, they punch with a righteous indignation and tell of grief, both plangent and whispered. It’s prosody born of the streets of Brixton, the white sands and green hills of Trinidad as well as – no surprise given he was awarded the T S Elliot Prize in 2019 – the richness of very many poetic forms. Robinson’s work honours caringly, wittily, adroitly, in the words of fellow poet Raymond Antrobus, the best and the hardest part of living.

The BUILDHOLLYWOOD family are hugely pleased that Robinson has agreed to our displaying two poems from his recent collection ‘A Portable Paradise’ (pub. by Peepal Tree Press) on the streets of the UK. This duo of strikingly designed posters is the latest Your Space Or Mine project which gives artists and creatives a platform on the street.

In ‘The Job of Paradise’ rhyming couplets carry the reader along through rituals and images associated with the end of life – ‘mumbled prayers’, ‘the long black hearse’, ‘a clean neat grave’ – declaiming what work of structure and solace they might afford us. The pacing metre offering a firm support, maybe so we don’t flounder in confronting the tragic business of how to even begin coping with the avoidable loss of so many loved ones. This poem concludes the section of Robinson’s latest volume that laments, rages at the crime of Grenfell and lovingly bespeaks the gentle workaday lives of people taken before their time.

With ‘A Portable Paradise’ Robinson’s multi-faceted arcadic metaphor, this time gifted him by his grandmother, is a trove of comfort and reassurance. A personal amulet that helps summon strength in the face of life’s pressures. We don’t learn specifically what conjures paradise so readers can imagine an object of their own that proffers encouragement, that brings sweetness and light in our darkest hours. Here and throughout the collection life’s challenges are met, meditated on, and mediated by deceptively simple language (we know how complex ‘simple’ is). Roger Robinson is a priceless poetic voice for our troubled times.

Molly Hankinson - Your Space Or Mine

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Molly Hankinson

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