Ruby Robinson is a real find. Her agile and poised poems play with scale, listen out and in, and crank the gain up on the world. It’s great to discover such an exciting debut.
Robinson is concerned with ‘the gaps between – when sets are dismantled and rebuilt, or a tortoise hibernates while all human life continues around it. In poems that pulse with sensory detail – the sun pushing through iced air, a horizon ‘enflaming’ the shallows at the water’s edge – her poetry amplifies the quietest, habitually unheard, sounds of our lives. There is a metaphysical sensibility – at work in poems like the wonderful ‘Undress’ – a modern take on the resistant lover trope, but with a delicious twist: while Donne and Marvell stop short of a resolution, Robinson’s fictional lover is marvellously yielding. Her crisp phrasing and relentless reaching after the truth make hers a rare and powerful new voice. Ruby Robinson is one to watch.
The most vital poetry is fuelled by truth, even when it may expose us to the source of pain. Ruby Robinson’s poems enact this risk with great skill, reaffirming the power of the art. Every Little Sound is an extraordinary first collection from a very gifted young poet.
To read ‘Apology’ in full is to be within the experience of the speaker. In part because of the hardness of language, clinical at times, the poem, and the collection, is irreparably moving.
Antiphon issue 18 (page 26) http://www.antiphon.org.uk/images/i18/Antiphon%20issue%2018.pdf
These are taut, vibrant, intimate poems, structured in a such a way as to replicate the complicated manoeuvres our brains make as we try to understand human behaviour. Repeated images and associative ideas resurface across poems like memories, suppressed memories, and false memories. In this way, a gathering narrative is grippingly revealed in this tightly bound, cohesive collection.
And Other Poems
Her control of her material is demonstrated nowhere more powerfully than in ‘Apology’, an agonised and virtuoso incantation containing (acknowledged) allusions to Louis MacNeice’s ‘Prayer Before Birth’. It’s the ‘Mother’ counterpart of Plath’s ‘Daddy’ in terms of concentrated power, for all that it’s longer and, emotionally, far more intricate.
The Poetry Review 106:2 Summer 2016
Robinson retains/regains an artistic distance that augurs well for future collections…
Deceptively conversational, Robinson’s poems pay dividends in each repeated reading with their subtle rhymes and ear for meter. As a result, these pieces do not falter on the backs of their somewhat staid titles (‘Love’, ‘Time’, ‘Romance’, ‘Tea’, ‘Boy’, etc.), but excel in their ability to return these words their full breadth and depth.
The London Magazine
Ruby Robinson’s debut is intense and deeply centred, and asks a similar level of engagement from her reader.
Dundee University Review of the Arts
…an intelligent and disturbing debut that explores how family affects both our sense of self and our intimate relationships.
…personal passion is anatomised for us to recognise and empathise with.
The North No. 56
Robinson’s best work has the open-endedness of lived moments, observing unexpected feelings and sensations and letting them spool outwards.
The preface provides a definition of this central listening practice: “an internal volume control which helps us amplify and focus upon quiet sounds in times of threat, danger or intense concentration.” In Robinson’s work, this threat stems from intimate relationships – particularly those between family members and lovers – with their capacity to nurture, shape and harm us.
I can’t think of many other poets who find a halfway point between Jane Austen and Jarvis Cocker.
Patrick Davidson Roberts
The Next Review Vol. 3/No. 6
The quality of Robinson’s figurative writing is sensational.
The 2016 T. S. Eliot Prize newsletter
Underlying the poems in this collection is the threat that, were the self to dissolve, it might take both language and hierarchies of perception with it.
The Oxonian Review