me, my poetry, and I
a brief biography
Robin is a poet, poetry producer, and author of The Manager, a sequence of poems that charts the backwaters of managerial reality, ‘a joyful object-lesson in how to mine genuine poetry from the most banal depths of modern life’. He also runs writing workshops, and enjoys collaborating with artists and musicians and exploring the use of multimedia in performance.
Originally from London, Robin moved to Sheffield in 1999, where he ran Spoken Word Antics for five years, presented the Antics radio show on SheffieldLive, and produced a series of site-specific sound and poetry collage-performances. After a spell in Iceland, he moved to Nottingham, where he was Development Director for Nottingham Writers' Studio, Literature Producer for World Event Young Artists, and instigated the first Nottingham Festival of Words (February 2013). He now lives in London, where he works as a freelance creative writing facilitator and is developing a poetry improvisation project.
Robin has been producing live literature events since 2003. In that time he has booked over 40 featured writers and worked on three live literature series: Spoken Word Antics (Sheffield), Word of Mouth (Nottingham Writers’ Studio), and Jazz and Poetry (Nottingham, with Shoestring Press). He has also organised numerous poetry readings and cross-artform events, and programmed courses, workshops, education projects, talks, and networking events for writers.
Some of his collaborations include ‘Time Is Running Out! (restart your system now)’, a mesmerising poetry and music piece commissioned with the Ella Luk project for Off the Shelf 2009, and a script for Surveillance Suite, an auto-generative CCTV project by artist James Coupe. He is currently collaborating with artist Alban Low on a number of film-poems based on a simulated mental health ward in St George’s Hospital, Tooting.
He has run writing workshops for organisations like Sheffield Young Writers, Aphasia Nottingham, Off the Shelf, and Apples and Snakes, and specialises in group devising, writing for performance, and poetry improvisation. He volunteers as a Writing Mentor working with young people on writing projects at Ministry of Stories in Hoxton and ReWrite in Southwark.
Robin's poetry has been published by Happenstance Press, Candlestick Press, Under the Radar, Long Poem Magazine, Poems Underwater, and Hearing Voices, among other places. He has performed his work all over the country, and has delivered Manager sets at places like Saltmarsh Poetry (Burnham Market), Word of Mouth (Nottingham), States of Independence (Leicester), Shindig (Nottingham), Bank Street Arts (Sheffield), the Scottish Poetry Library (Edinburgh), Wicked Words (Leeds), Rhythm and Muse (Kingston-upon-Thames), Missfit Mondays (Hoxton), Verberate (Manchester), Speaker’s Corner (York), and the Writers’ Cafe (Stockton-on-Tees).
Robin blogs at www.zeroquality.net/zqblog.
'Moving in', 'Temporary Accommodation', Anthropocene (forthcoming 2021).
'Grounded', Dream Catcher, 41 (2020).
'Shockwave', 'VICTORius', Pocket Litter (Writers Forum, August 2018).
'Blackberrying', 'Black Sea Fire', Far Off Places Trespassers Beware issue (summer 2018).
'The Superiority of American Air Power', International Times (October 2017).
'Makeover', Under the Radar, 18 (autumn 2016).
'Trickster Wind', 'Story', 'Lay-by', Obsessed with Pipework, 75 (Lughnasadh 2016).
'Pills', Open Minds Quarterly, 17:3 (fall 2015).
'Through the Window', Under the Radar, 14 (2014).
'Channel Swimmer', Poems Underwater, eds Laura Seymour & Kirsten Tambling (August 2013).
'Rising Tide', 'Channel Swimmer', and 'The Invisible Land' (audio poems), Mad Hatter's Review 13 (www.madhattersreview.com), ed. Marc Vincenz (May 2012).
'Are You My Friend?' (poetry improvisation with Adele Geraghty and Sarah Thomasin), in Contraption: Fuselit 17, eds Kirsten Irving & Jon Stone (Sidekick Books, 2012).
'Fired!' (poem), in Thirteen Poems of Revenge (Candlestick Press, 2012).
'1991' (poem), Hearing Voices, 4, eds Jonathan and Maria Taylor (October 2011).
'breakglass', 'Tread Carefully' (poems), Under the Radar, 8 (July 2011).
'Cyclone' (poem), LeftLion, 37 (October–November 2010).
The Manager (pamphlet) (Happenstance Press, March 2010). Info
'COMMONSense' (poem), COMMONSense apazine, ed. Dougald Hine (Access Space, Sheffield, 2009). Info
'Manga' (poem), Long Poem Magazine, 2 (July 2009).
Articles and Reviews
- Assent (summer 2012): review of An Ordinary Dog by Greg Woods.
Sphinx 20 (2012): review of This Lake Used to be Frozen: Lamps by Ian McMillan.
Critical Survey (forthcoming), reviews of Caught by Victoria Bean and At the Races by Michael McCarthy.
Sphinx 19 (2011): reviews of The Vile Ascent of Lucien Gore and What the People Did by Luke Wright and Planet-Shaped Horse by Luke Kennard.
Sphinx 18 (2011): review of If Only Coll Were Two Floors Down by Valerie Thornton.
Sphinx 17 (2011): review of Laughing Butcher Berlin Blues by Mark Terrill.
Sphinx 13 (2010): reviews of Skylight by Carole Bromley and Checkpoint by Ronald Tamplin.
Sphinx 12 (2010): reviews of The Night Is Young by Peter Sansom, Tell Me About Them by Michael Davenport, Easterly, Force 10 by Lyn Moir, and Every Salt Advance by Andrew McMillan.
'The Poetry Cafe' (review), BELLYFLOP Magazine (10 August 2010, www.bellyflopmag.com).
'The Hengill Trek' (travel article), Atlantica, 4 (Iceland, summer 2010).
'Afternoon of the Minotaur' (review), BELLYFLOP Magazine (11 May 2010, www.bellyflopmag.com).
'Letter from Reykjavík' (article), Poetry Review, 99:2 (summer 2009), pp.116-17.
some past performances
- Words Aloud, Sutton Central Library, London (April 2016).
- Word Geometry, at Recheres in Tooting, London (March 2016).
- Merton Poets relay performance in New Malden Library, London (February 2016).
- Launch of Phoenix, Merton Poets anthology, New Malden Library, London (July 2015).
- Carshalton-on-Sea Festival, Cryer Studio Theatre, Sutton, London (June 2015).
- World's End poetry night at the World's End theatre, Chelsea, London (May 2015).
- William Morris evening at the William Morris pub, Merton Abbey Mills, London (March 2015).
- Tongue Fu at Slough Night of Festivals (May 2014).
- Happenstance Poets at the Torriano Meeting House, London (April 2014).
- Merton Poets at Mitcham Library (March 2014).
- The Jawspring Exhibition launch. Wimbledon Village Gallery (March 2014).
- Saltmarsh Poetry: The Manager, My Daughter Is an Alien. Burnham Market (October 2013).
- Poetry and Jazz (organised by Nottingham Writers' Studio and Shoestring Press). Hotel Deux, Nottingham (July 2013).
- Poetry and Jazz (organised by Nottingham Writers' Studio and Shoestring Press). Hotel Deux, Nottingham (June 2013).
- Poetry and Jazz (organised by Nottingham Writers' Studio and Shoestring Press). Hotel Deux, Nottingham (May 2013).
- Poetry and Jazz: 'Manga', accompanied by Four-in-a-Bar (organised by Nottingham Writers' Studio and Shoestring Press). Hotel Deux, Nottingham (April 2013).
- Poetry and Jazz: extract from 'Time Is Running Out!', accompanied by Four-in-a-Bar (organised by Nottingham Writers' Studio and Shoestring Press). Hotel Deux, Nottingham (February 2013).
- Word of Mouth—Journeys (organised by Nottingham Writers' Studio): Poems from the Road. Antenna, Nottingham (November 2012).
- Shindig, with Maria Taylor, Alan Baker and Kim Moore. Organised by Nine Arches Press at The Western, Leicester (July 2012).
- SEND Project World Vibes tent, Sneinton Festival. Nottingham (June 2012).
- The Lowdham Fringe (Lowdham Book Fair). The Old Ship, Lowdham, Nottinghamshire (June 2012).
- Poetry at Lee Rosy's, with Anna Robinson, Wayne Burrows, and Georgina Lock: Poems from the Road. Lee Rosy's Tea, Nottingham (May 2012).
- Luxury Goods—The Reality of Art (festival), with Wayne Burrows, Kirsten irving, and Michael Glover: Poems from the Road. Courtyard Theatre, Hoxton, London (May 2012).
- Happenstance—Deleted Scenes, with Tim Love, Sally Festing, and Peter Daniels: The Manager. States of Independence, Leicester (March 2012).
- Say Sum Thin III: extract from 'Time Is Running Out'. Nottingham Playhouse (March 2012).
- Launch of Thirteen Poems of Revenge by Candlestick Press. Home Lounge Bar, Nottingham (February 2012).
- A Night of Happenstance, with Helena Nelson, DA Prince, Matthew Stewart, Ross Kightly, and Marilyn Ricci: The Manager and The Caretaker. Lee Rosy's, Nottingham (November 2011).
- Oxjam Festival Poetry and Spoken Word Stage. Old bus depot, Beeston (October 2011).
- Nottingham Poetry Society anthology launch. Waterstones, Nottingham (October 2011).
- Happenstance spot, with Gregory Leadbetter: The Manager. States of Independence West, Birmingham (October 2011).
- Poets' Corner. Speakers' Corner, Nottingham (October 2011).
- Safe and Sounds (festival) Spoken Word Stage: The Manager. Lee Rosy's, Nottingham (September 2011).
- Say Sum Thin II: poetry DJ set + The Manager. Nottingham Playhouse (July 2011).
- Word of Mouth—Nottingham and the World: Skypelove poems. Antenna, Nottingham (May 2011).
- Speech Therapy slam (2nd place). Bar Deux, Nottingham (May 2011).
- Utter! Pointlessness. The Green Note, Camden, London (April 2011).
- Word of Mouth: The Manager. Antenna, Nottingham (February 2011).
- Shindig!: The Manager, with Sarah Jackson, Matt Merritt, and David Morley. Organised by Nine Arches Press and LeftLion at the Jam Cafe, Nottingham (November 2010).
- Speak Easy: The Manager. The Hubs, Sheffield (September 2010).
- Happenstance 5th Birthday Party: The Manager. Scottish Poetry Library, Edinburgh (July 2010).
- The Manager and the Officer: Sheffield launch of The Manager with Matt Clegg. Bank Street Arts (June 2010).
- Text and Music (Signposts, Off the Shelf Festival): 'Time Is Running Out!' with Ella Luk. Riverside Café Bar, Sheffield (October 2009).
- Long Poems Magazine Launch: 'Manga'. Red Deer, Sheffield (October 2009).
- Summer Poetry Jam: The Manager. Café Rót, Reykjavík (May 2009)
- Missfit Mondays: The Manager. The Troy Bar, Hoxton, London (May 2009).
- Wicked Words: The Manager. Leeds (May 2009).
- Luxury Goods—The Value of Art (arts festival), The Foundry, Old Street, London (April 2009).
- Rhythm and Muse: The Manager. Teddington, London (April 2009).
- Spoken Word Antics, Sheffield (October 2003-2008).
- Life 2.0 (Skype Me! and Lost Voices) at Access Space, Sheffield (October 2008).
- Tea Party - a Night of Poetry and Music (DIY Poets): The Manager. The Art Organisation (Tea Bar), Nottingham (August 2008).
- Sheffield Green Fair (Sheffield Green Party) at St Mary's Community Centre, Sheffield (June 2008).
- Amnesty Benefit, the Castle Hotel, Newcastle (March 2008).
- Doncaster Writers' Fair (March 2008).
- Writers' Cafe: The Manager. The Old Georgian Theatre, Stockport-on-Tees (November 2007).
- Moral Panic II at the New Beehive, with Oliver Mantell and James Nash. Bradford (November 2007).
- Peace in the Park, Endcliffe Park, Sheffield (May 2007).
- Speaker's Corner (Aesthetica): The Manager. With Matt Black and Thom the World Poet. York (October 2006).
- Rony Robinson Show on BBC Radio Sheffield (July 2006).
- Verberate: The Manager. the Trof Cafe, Manchester (January 2006).
- Bradford Polish Centre, with Matt Black, Elizabeth Barrett, and Carolyn Waudby (winter 2005).
- Demolition, Sheffield Cathedral (October 2005).
- University of Sheffield Poets at the Centennial (Broomhill Festival) in Vittles Cafe, with Elizabeth Barrett, Matt Black, Liz Cashdan, Matt Clegg, Philip Howarth, Chris Jones, Jennie King, and Diana Syder (June 2005).
- Borderlines, Sheffield Independent Film (February 2005).
- Bcuk off at FOB, with Oliver Mantell and Phil Bowen: Sheffield (November 2004).
- Verbiage, Sheffield Winter Garden (October 2004).
- Sound and Word at Simunye, with Eleanor Rees, Jonathan Woolley, and Ella Luk: Sheffield (October 2004).
- Painshill Trust, Surrey (October 2004).
- Rotherham Arts Festival (September 2004).
- Russian cultural evening, University of Sheffield (May 2004).
- Arcadia at Bukowski's, Sheffield (December 2003).
- Abstract Faces exhibition launch at the Foundry, Old Street, London (November 2002).
- Taking the Mike, Merton, South London (September 2000).
- Virtual Tea Party, Merton Abbey Mills, South London (May 1999).
For a full list of radio programmes, see the Spoken Word Antics Radio Show.
Tea and Cakes with John Hegley (Performance Manager). End-of-project intergenerational event for the Sutton Stories, part of Imagine Festival of the Arts. The event brought together group performances from adult and young writers and videos of poems by elderly residents, and was broadcast via Skype to one of the participating care homes. Sutton Central Library, South London, 24 October 2015.
Grey Parrot Singing, an improvised group poetry performance, which I worked with four emerging poets to produce for Apples and Snakes' Word's a Stage series. Free Word Centre, London, 14 April 2015.
Texas 2 London. An evening of international poetry using a Skype video link to connect with a parallel event at the Austin International Poetry Festival. Organised in collaboration with Open Haus Arts and AIPF, and supported by a Merton Council's Arts Development Fund. Colour House Theatre, Merton, London, 9 April 2015.
Home Cooking: Poems from the Road—a poetic journey down Britain's A-roads. A one-hour podcast for Apples and Snakes, to be broadcast on basic.fm on 6 November 2014.
Skype Me! Nottingham and the World. An evening of international writing bringing together writers on stage and on screen from Europe and the Americas. 18 October 2014, part of Nottingham Festival of Words. Nottingham Writers' Studio.
Nottingham Festival of Words, a citywide festival covering the spectrum of genres, with family events, workshops, talks, readings, and participatory activities. Over 100 events over two weeks, 9–24 February 2013.
Poetry events in Nottingham
Jazz and Poetry (collaboration with John Lucas of Shoestring Press), Hotel Deux, Nottingham. Music and poetry night with readings, house band Four-in-a-Bar, and spontaneous fusions of words and music.
17 July 2013, with guest poet Cliff Foreshaw.
19 June 2013, with guest poet Eleanor Rees.
15 May 2013, with guest poet Linda Lee Welch accompanied by The Only Michael.
24 April 2013, with guest poet Helen Mort.
20 February 2013, with guest poet Matt Black.
Poetry at Lee Rosy's, featuring Anna Robinson, Georgina Lock, Wayne Burrows, and RVW. Lee Rosy's, Nottingham (May 2012).
Poetry Rodeo (with Nine Arches Press), featuring Alistair Noon, Sarah Jackson, CJ Allen and Aly Stoneman. Jam Cafe, Nottingham (May 2012).
Skype Me! Sheffield and the World. A Skype-lit night, with writers on stage and on screen from around the world. 29 October 2011, part of Off the Shelf Festival. The Showroom Cinema, Sheffield.
- Happenstance stalls and readings:
Stall at States of Independence, Leicester, 19 March 2011.
Stall at Lowdham Book Festival, 25 June 2011.
Stall and reading slot (Gregory Leadbetter and RVW) at States of Independence West, Birmingham, 8 October 2011.
A Night of Happenstance, with readings from Helena Nelson, DA Prince, Matthew Stewart, Ross Kightly, Marilyn Ricci, and RVW. Lee Rosy's, Nottingham, 26 November 2011.
Stall and reading slot (with Tim Love, Sally Festing, Peter Daniels, and RVW) at States of Independence, Leicester, 17 March 2012.
Poets' Corner, a public reading at Speakers' Corner, Nottingham Market Square, on National Poetry Day, 6 October 2011. Organised with Nottingham Writers' Studio and LeftLion.
Word of Mouth, Nottingham Writers' Studio's live literature night:
- 9 December 2010. Antenna, Nottingham, with Nicola Valentine.
- 18 February 2011. Antenna, Nottingham, with Nicola Valentine.
- 19 May 2011. Nottingham and the World, a Skype-lit night, with writers on stage and on screen from around the world. Antenna, Nottingham.
- 31 October 2011. The Horror Night, in association with Mayhem Horror Festival. Broadway Cinema, Nottingham, with Nicola Valentine.
- 21 March 2012. The Film Night, a night of screenings and readings. Antenna, Nottingham.
- 12 September 2012. Love, Lace, and Revolution: the Nottingham Festival of Words launch night. Antenna, Nottingham.
Spoken Word Antics at the Red Deer, Sheffield. Open mic with guests and occasional special evenings. Every month, October 2003 to October 2008.
Life 2.0 at Access Space, Sheffield. An exploration of writing and technology, with an improvised soundscape, Skype readings, viral text poetry, Lost Voices (a group poetry performance), and contributions from Richard Bolam (World X), Brian Lewis (multi-channel sound collage based on Matt Clegg's Edgelands), Linda Lee Welch and The Only Michael (FYI), and Jake Harries (spam songs). October 2008.
Demolition in Sheffield Cathedral. A site-specific collage-performance of sound and poetry on 'change in the city', with the voices of 17 poets interwoven with one another and with the music of the Ella Luk Project. October 2005.
Borderlines at Sheffield Independent Film. An evening of verbal performance, with Rachel Pantechnicon, Project Adorno, Jonathan Woolley, Robin Vaughan-Williams, James Lock, and Leanne Marks. February 2005.
Verbiage in Sheffield Winter Garden. A site-specific collage-performance of sound and poetry on 'the garden', with the voices of 25 poets interwoven with one another and with the music of the Ella Luk Project. October 2004.
Sound and Poetry in Simunye (Sheffield). A basement performance with music from the Ella Luk Project and spoken word from Robin Vaughan-Williams, Eleanor Rees, and Jonathan Woolley. October 2004.
Film-poems. I've been collaborating with artist Alban Low on a series of film-poems, some of them related to his residency at a simulated mental health ward at St George's Hospital, Tooting. Alban sent me a transcript from the simulated ward, which I used as the basis for a couple of poems. He then turned these into film-poems, the first of which, 'What's Real Is Home', will be available in April 2014.
War and Peace: Nottingham Light Night, 28 February 2014. As part of Nottingham Writers' Studio's Light Night event, three of my poems ('Victory Day (9th May)', 'Young Girl Mourns at a Gaza Funeral', 'Oklahoma, 1995') were projected onto the Nottingham Castle tunnel walls by lighting artist Andy McKeown.
'Subversive Ulverston' is a script I created for artist James Coupe's auto-generative CCTV project Surveillance Suite in 2009. Sections of the script are linked to specific types of event in the CCTV footage, allowing the visual narrative to continually reinvent itself as fresh events are recorded and coded.
other roles and awards
Sutton Cultural Award for 'individuals and organisations who have made an outstanding contribution to the Cultural Life of the London Borough of Sutton', and specifically for my work on the Sutton Stories Project during Imagine Festival of the Arts 2015.
Adjudicator on Nottingham Poetry Society Slam, 28 May 2011.
Co-judge with Carolyn Waudby on Photofiction competition for Cube young people's magazine, October 2007.
University of Sheffield Centenary Award for an outstanding contribution to the poetry scene in Sheffield with special reference to the Verbiage performance-collage event, 2005.
Guest on Music for Words with Michael Harding on www.basic.fm, 4 June 2013 at 11.15am.
Interview: 'Write on! Festival of Words Celebrates City’s Thriving Lit Scene' by Sue Barsby for Creative Nottingham, 7 February 2013
'...on Nottingham's Wealth of Writing Talent', this is Nottingham, 15 February 2013.
'Five minutes with...' on Experience Nottinghamshire, 11 February 2013.
Guest on Nottingham Lace with Jason Loftus on Trent Sound, 2 February 2013 at 5pm.
Guest on Nottingham Lace with Miggy Angel and Jason Loftus on Trent Sound, 15 September 2012 at 5pm.
'Word of Mouth', LeftLion, 16 May 2011.
Live Event Reviews
Oliver Clarke reviews Word of Mouth, 21 November 2012, in LeftLion, 26 November 2012.
@johnwithbeard covers the launch of Nottingham Festival of Words, 12 September 2012, on Creative Nottingham, 13 September 2012.
Jayne Stanton reviews Leicester Shindig, 16 July 2012, on jaynestantonpoetry.wordpress.com, 17 July 2012.
Pete Lamb reviews Shindig, 21 November 2010, in LeftLion, 22 November 2010.