Wednesday, 10 May 2017

BOOK REVIEW: WHEN YOU HEAR THE BELL THERE'S NOWHERE TO HIDE BY JOHN D. ROBINSON



John D Robinson is my new favourite poet. Bar none. 

I do not make that statement lightly, and to make it abundantly clear, it is not because we are both from the same town, nor is it because John's Holy & Intoxicated Publications recently published my own collection of poetry (Worse Things Happen At Sea), and it is definitely not because having met the man I can attest that he is a genuine, lovely bloke whom also bought me a cup of tea. No, it is because having devoured this book in double quick time it was instantly clear that John D Robinson specialises in writing a very particular form of poetry: That which I wish I had written. 

Poet John Grochalski puts it perfectly in the book's introduction; "what has always struck me about a Robinson poem is how stark the language is, the grit that comes off the page, and the life that is distilled into each line". Robinson's no nonsense style is refreshing to behold. The no bullshit front cover sets the tone and that distilled, direct approach is carried through each line of every poem. No word, syllable, letter or full stop is wasted.

You will find no flowery, metaphorical head scratchers here, just stark and honest poems about life, and all of its absurdity. From shitty jobs, to shitty girlfriends, to one heart breaking poem towards the end about a cat, which I am not ashamed to admit made me cry. That's right, a poem about a cat made me cry. I don't think a poem has ever made me cry before. Maybe I hadn't been reading the right poetry. I certainly am now.

John D Robinson is somewhat of an elusive character. No website, no social media, and unfortunately you are unlikely to find When You Hear The Bell There's Nowhere to Hide on the shelves of your nearest Waterstones, nor languishing in the algorithms of Amazon. If you wish to purchase a copy you will have to contact the man directly and you can do so via johndrobinson@yahoo.co.uk. Do it. Do it right now. You will not regret it.

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