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A Portable Paradise

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Roger Robinson’s range is wide: the joys and pains of family life; the ubiquitous presence of racism; observations on the threatening edge of violence below the surface energies of Black British territories in London; emblematic poems on the beauty and often bizarre strangeness of the world of animals; quizzical responses to the strange, the heartening, and the appalling in incidents encountered in daily life; and reflections on the purposes and costs of making art. Not least, in the sequence of poems that reflect on the meanings of the Grenfell Tower fire, Roger Robinson finds ways to move beyond a just indignation to uncover the undertones of experience that bring us nearer to the human reality of that event. The collection’s title points to the underlying philosophy expressed in these poems: that earthly joy is, or ought to be, just within, but is often just beyond our reach, denied by racism, misogyny, physical cruelty, and those with the class power to deny others their share of worldly goods and pleasures. A Portable Paradise is not the emptiness of material accumulation, but joy in an openness to people, places, the sensual pleasures of food, and the rewards to be had from the arts of word, sound, and visual enticement—in short an “insatiable hunger” for life. The poems express a fierce anger against injustice, but also convey the irrepressible sense that Roger Robinson cannot help but love people for their humour, oddity, and generosity of spirit.These finely crafted poems reveal Roger Robinson’s capacity to tell involving stories and capture the essence of a character in a few words, to move the emotions with the force of verbal expression, and to engage our thoughts. A Portable Paradise is a feast to be carried by lovers of poetry wherever they go.

ISBN-13: 9781845234331

Media Type: Paperback

Publisher: Peepal Tree Press Ltd.

Publication Date: 05-19-2020

Pages: 84

Product Dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.40(d)

Roger Robinson is the winner of the 2020 TS Eliot Prize for poetry. His first full poetry collection, The Butterfly Hotel, was shortlisted for The OCM Bocas Poetry Prize.

Table of Contents

I

The Missing 9

Haibun for the Lookers 11

Fourteen to One 12

The Portrait Museum 13

Blame 14

The Father 15

Ghosts 16

Doppelganger 17

Dolls 18

The Boys Light Fireworks on the Ground Floor 19

The Job of Paradise 20

II

(Some) Sweat 23

Woke 24

Black Anthurium 25

Slavery Limerick 26

Windrush 27

Black Olive 28

Bob Marley in Brixton 29

Bottles Flying in Slow Motion at the Police 30

Beware 31

It Soon Come 32

Walk With Me 33

Ashes to Fire 34

The Darkening Red of Your Blood 36

Therapy 37

Day Moon 38

A Journalist Repeatedly Asks Me About Race 39

And If I Speak of Paradise 40

III

Citizen I 43

Citizen II 45

Citizen III 47

IV

On Sade 51

There's Nothing Like This: Facts about Omar 52

Ascension 53

The Human Canvas 54

Stubb's Whistlejacket 55

The Champion's Final Rubbing Down 56

Portrait of My Great Grandmother as the Subject of Gericault's Monomie L'envie 57

A Young Girl with a Dog and a Page 58

The Ever Changing Dot 59

Corbeaux 60

Midwinter 61

The Crow Palinode 62

Giant Macajuel 63

Complexity 64

Paradise 65

V

Grace 69

On Nurses 70

Prayer 71

Repast 72

On Whistling 73

Noah 74

Saints 75

Liver 76

Shandilay Bush 78

Maracas Beach Prayer 80

A Portable Paradise 81