Poet, author, post-marketer
Robin Houghton’s work appears in many magazines including Agenda, Bare Fiction, Envoi, Magma, Poetry News and The Rialto, and in numerous anthologies. Also in The Best New British and Irish Poets 2017 (Eyewear). She won the Hamish Canham Prize in 2013, the Stanza Poetry Competition in 2014 (and was runner-up in the same competition in 2016) and the New Writer Competition in 2012. Her pamphlet The Great Vowel Shift was published by Telltale Press, the poets’ collective she co-founded in 2014. In 2017 she self-published a handmade limited edition mini-pamphlet Foot Wear. After winning the Cinnamon Press Poetry Pamphlet competition in 2017, Robin’s third pamphlet, All the Relevant Gods is out from Cinnamon in February 2018. She blogs at robinhoughtonpoetry.co.uk
After 30+ years of trying to write poetry, I decided to stop mucking about and to set myself the goal of getting a poem published in a reputable magazine. I needed a sign, if you like, that I had some modicum of talent worth working on.
The Gods of Poetry (in the shape of Michael Mackmin at The Rialto) gave me that sign in 2010, and it made me serious about writing and reading poetry.
Since then I’ve had quite a few poems published, and my third pamphlet (short collection) All the Relevant Gods is published by Cinnamon Press in February 2018.
In 2014 I got together with Peter Kenny to form Telltale Press, a poets’ publishing collective. We now have five members, and as well as publishing members’ pamphlets we also hold regular readings and events. It’s fun and inspirational to work alongside other poets, encouraging and promoting each other and the Telltale ethos. I’ve learnt a lot from the experience.
Until recently I lived in Lewes, a town with a vibrant community of fine poets from whom I’ve learned masses, among them Clare Best, Charlotte Gann, Jeremy Page, Catherine Smith & Janet Sutherland. I’ve also benefited greatly from workshops & courses led by Mimi Khalvati, Anne-Marie Fyfe, Carol Ann Duffy, Gillian Clarke, Jack Underwood, and John McCullough for New Writing South, an organisation that has supported me in many ways, for which I am grateful.
For a year or so I was the Brighton Stanza Rep, and now I’m a member of the Hastings Stanza, a fine and supportive workshopping group run by Antony Mair.
When I think about it, I’ve written for a living for over 20 years – but the kind of writing that pays isn’t poetry! As a marketer and copywriter it’s been words all the way, and since getting an MA in Digital Media in 2000 I’ve worked in online communications and latterly social media. (I was what they used to call an ‘early adopter’.) In recent years I’ve written five ‘how to’ books, three of which were commissioned and are still selling well in good bookshops. My agent is Charlotte Howard at Fox & Howard.
The story so far: where published, competitions, awards etc. Plus links to reviews & interviews.
All the relevant gods, Cinnamon, February 2018
The Great Vowel Shift, Telltale Press, March 2014
Foot Wear (a handmade limited edition pamphlet) 2017
Cannon Poets ‘Sonnet or Not’ Competition 2017, Highly Commended. Judged by Liz Berry.
Anne Born Prize 2017, Commended. Judged by Rachael Boast.
Cinnamon Pamphlet Competition 2017, winner. Judged by Ian Gregson.
Poetry Society Stanza Competition 2016, Runner-up, for ‘Performance’. Judged by Ros Barber.
Hamish Canham Prize 2013 for ‘Ellipsis’. Judges Carole Satyamurti, Paul McGrane, Kate White and Mike Sims. Poem first published in 2012 in Poetry News. Selected by Stephen Knight from members’ poems on the theme of ‘Absent’.
The Plough Poetry Prize 2014, 2nd place, for ‘Gifted’. Judged by Liz Lochhead.
The New Writer poetry competition 2012, single poem category, 1st prize, for ‘Midnight Pickup’. Judged by Pascale Petit.
Poetry Society Stanza Competition 2012: ‘Handmade in Guangzhou’ – commended. Judged by John Siddique.
Obsessed with Pipework 86 (May 2019) ‘Statistics’, ‘Seeing the Small Picture’, ‘The Metallurgy of Eddie van Halen’
The North 60 (August 2018) ‘Runner’, ‘Under Hammersmith Bridge, 2016’
The Interpreter’s House 68 (June 2018) ‘The Beauty Forecast’
The Frogmore Papers 91 (March 2018) ‘And there was that time’
The Cannon’s Mouth (March 2018) ‘Hat for Earrings’
Coast to Coast to Coast 2 (December 2017) ‘Faux’
The Rialto 89 (September 2017) ‘1 Poultry’, ‘The summer we went to funerals’
Brittle Star 40 (June 2017) ‘Office’
Magma 68 (July 2017) ‘Outtakes’
Obsessed with Pipework 79 (August 2017) ‘Orientation’, ‘Dream | Job’ & ‘Reorganisation’
Prole 23 (August 2017) ‘Before the splicing’
Envoi 176 (June 2017) ‘First Salsa in Cusco’
The Bees’ Breakfast (anthology, Beautiful Dragons Collaborations, May 2017) ‘Far from Noise and Smoke of Town’
Best New British & Irish Poets 2017 (Eyewear Publishing, March 2017) ‘She discovered the Internet’. Selected by Luke Kennard.
Under the Radar 18 (Autumn 2016) ‘Thoughts my own’
The Interpreter’s House 62 (June 2016) ‘Long haul’
Brittle Star 38 (Summer 2016) ‘Not Found’
Bare Fiction 7 (April 16) ‘Alchemnesia’, ‘Four Star’, ‘#WakeUpPhilae’
Live Canon, Project 154 – Anthology to celebrate Shakespeare’s 400th anniversary (April 2016) – ‘A Suggestion from the Rival Poet’
Prole 19 (April 2016) ‘Two Honeymoons’
Poetry News (April 2016) ‘The houses are coming’ (Selected by Richard Price from poems on the theme of ‘Territory’)
Obsessed with Pipework 74 (Feb 2016) ‘She discovered the Internet’ and ‘Sometimes you bring me your poesy’
The Chronicles of Eve (anthology, Paper Swans Press) ‘Calamity’
Envoi 171 (Autumn 2015) ‘Eltham’
Elemental (Anthology, Beautiful Dragons Collaborations, Autumn 2015) ‘Sleeping Partner’
Canterbury Festival Poet of the Year Anthology (October 2015) ‘Taken’
Brittle Star 36 (May 2015) ‘To turn a perfect cartwheel’
Prole 16 (April 2015) ‘I ask Don Paterson to read at my funeral’
The Needlewriters Anthology (March 2015) ‘Interval’
BlueGate Poets Anthology (December 2014) ‘Hydrangea’, ‘Blue Willow’
The Rialto 81 (October 2014) ‘The long-haired girls’
South 50 (October 2014) ‘Hydrangea’, ‘Lunch in Brighton?’
Heavenly Bodies (Anthology, Beautiful Dragons Collaborations, April 2014) ‘Small Horse’
The Interpreter’s House 55 (March 2014) ‘East from Seahouses’
Envoi 166 (January 2014) ‘Closure’, ‘Fermata’, ‘Interval’, ‘Caretaker’, ‘Map Reading’
Brighton Stanza Poets Anthology (Bramley Press, Nov 2013) ‘Poem starting with a line by Emily Dickinson’, ‘Sports photography in the 1970s’
The Rialto 78 (October 2013) ‘The Great Vowel Shift’
The Frogmore Papers (Aug 2013) ‘On Wiley’s Bridge’
The New Writer (July 2013) ‘Midnight Pickup’
Obsessed with Pipework 62 (April 2013): ‘Calamity’
Poetry News (Winter 2012): ‘Ellipsis’
The North 49 (December 2012): ‘Geography Lesson‘
Iota 91 (October 2012): ‘The Return’, ‘Container’, ‘Commute’
The Rialto 75 (July 2012): ‘The Last’
Poems from the Old Hill (anthology, Frogmore Press October 2012): ‘Invasion’, ‘River Ouse, Rodmell, 1941’
Mslexia 53 (March 2012): ‘At the plastic bag museum’
The Interpreter’s House 49 (Feb 2012): ‘Invasion’
Obsessed with Pipework 56 (Autumn 2011): ‘The Last Word’, ‘My life as an alien’
South 44 (October 2011): ‘All out at Peak Frean’s’
Agenda 46/2 (Autumn 2011): ‘River Ouse, Rodmell, 1941’
Iota 89 (Spring 2011): ‘Prussia Cove’, ‘I was once the Pope’
The Rialto 70 (Autumn 2010): ‘Second Sight’
Mary Evans Picture Library (September 2017), ‘Ladies’ Hour’
Proletarian Poetry, (Sept 2017), ‘Teatime in the Seventies’
Mary Evans Picture Library (March 2017), ‘London Bridge to Waterloo East’
Poetry Society website (October 2016), ‘Performance‘
Poetry Society website (April 2016), ‘The houses are coming‘
Ink, Sweat & Tears (Feb 2016) ‘Tying the Bowline‘
Abigail Morley’s The Poetry Shed (December 2015) ‘Father Reindeer’
Ink, Sweat & Tears (Spring 2015) ‘Small Horse’
The Needlewriters Companion (anthology, March 2015) ‘Interval’
Plough Prize website (March 2015) ‘Gifted’
Poetry Society website (October 2014) ‘Searching for the Police Tower, Orford Ness’
Rebecca Gethin’s blog, (May 2014) ‘Small Horse‘
PoetsOnline (April 2014) ‘Poem beginning with a line by Emily Dickinson’
Morphrog (Issue 8, Jan 14) ‘The Old Days’, ‘Still Life’
Antiphon (Issue 9, Dec 13) ‘Willow Pattern’
BlueGate Anthology (September 2013) ‘At the plastic bag museum’, ‘I was once the Pope’
Abegail Morley’s The Poetry Shed (April 2013) ‘Geography Lesson’
Ink, Sweat & Tears (March 2013) ‘Left’
Poetry News (Winter 2012): ‘Ellipsis’
And Other Poems: (Dec 2012) ‘Container’
Agenda Online Edition Retrospectives (April 2012): ‘When my sister is old’
Ink, Sweat & Tears (Jan 2012) ‘Night Visitors’
True Tales from the Old Hill (contribution to memoir anthology, Frogmore Press 2015)
Poetry News, Spring 2015 ‘A small stake in cyberspace’ – feature on poets who blog
Reviews of All the Relevant Gods:
Reviews of The Great Vowel Shift:
Review by Steve McQueen in The Interpreter’s House 62
Review by Jan Fortune in Envoi 172
Review by Clare Best in The Frogmore Papers.
July 22, 2105 – Creative Warriors podcast
April 11, 2015 – A Playful Day podcast
March 2, 2015 – The Author Biz podcast
Once she’s cut her rope from the spool
it has a job to do: it may tie a boat to a cleat,
secure a headsail in fair wind, bind a spell
to teach her standing from her working end.
The line is her friend. She’s witnessed time
and again the trouble caused by a heckled
lay, how hard to untwist, unmake the same –
worked so many nights, twined and reeled,
shaped-shifting coiled sisal and greyed hemp,
she’s whipped up frays and braided edges.
So why does she fear the heat of the lamp
and the slipping loose of a thousand fastenings?
She will dig out the core, feed a new line through,
strong for the passing and the coming-to.
First published in Prole 23, 2017
Shoot up in the fast lift,
poke the faux grass with toothpick heels.
Late lunch at the Coq d’Argent –
accept a drink, plan your exit.
After two pm the old religion can be smelt –
some urban Plague myth – even here,
halfway to the holding stacks
of City-bound planes.
Look out to where domes are clouds,
black antennas stricken trees, people
blips fading from someone’s radar.
A good place to fail.
Tender is the man-made view.
Look down where a scrawl of red tail-lights
sings stop in the name of love
and windows laugh open.
Two sips of Sauvignon Blanc and all London
is under you, your parapet bends
eye-level with skinny cranes,
arms turning in a show of listening.
First published in The Rialto 89, 2017
My latest pamphlet All the Relevant Gods was published in February 2018 by Cinnamon Press.
In November 2017 I self-published a limited edition, hand-stitched, illustrated and numbered mini-pamphlet called Foot Wear. Some copies still available directly from me.
My first pamphlet The Great Vowel Shift was published by Telltale Press in 2014.
All the Relevant Gods
“…persistently compelling” – Becky Varley-Winter in Sabotage Reviews
“…an impressive range of reference… it deploys the specific to hint evoactively at larger concerns” – Ian Gregson
” Confidently playful as well as seriously clever, these are poems that lodge in the memory and under the skin.” – Catherine Smith
“Robin Houghton’s All the Relevant Gods bears the confident hallmarks of an accomplished poet ready for a first full collection. […] There is a nicely insinuated examination of mutability throughout this book, as well as a wry critique of globalisation and the contemporary mores….[…] what lends her critique moral strength is the fact that Houghton implicates herself in the million sins of expediency that we all commit while deploring their aggregate results. Her own experience of the corporate world yields an authenticity to poems like ‘Handmade in Guangzhou’ ‘1 Poultry’ and ‘She discovered the internet’. – Martin Malone in The Interpreter’s House
“It’s refreshing to read a pamphlet willing to experiment with voice and style instead of tightly winding poems to a theme or restricting form to give poems a uniform feel.” – Emma Lee
“Robin Houghton is a subtle poet: we recognise the places and circumstances of her poems yet, at the same time, she draws our attention consistently to what might be in ‘the unreachable corner of the room.'” – Pam Thompson in London Grip
“the strength of good writing […] when a phrase or stanza unpeels itself weeks later, somewhere deep in your skull without you even remembering it was there in the first place” – Abigail Morley at The Poetry Shed
February 2018, ISBN 978-1-910836-95-8
All the Relevant Gods – £4.99 to buy on the Cinnamon Press website.
The Great Vowel Shift
This debut pamphlet brings together poems published in a range of magazines including The Rialto, The North, Poetry News and Obsessed with Pipework.
“a perfect little book full of powerful, subtle poems” – Hugh Dunkerley
“… equally at home in poignancy and exuberance”– John McCullough
“… an admirable balance of tenderness and terseness” – Hamish Canham Award judges on ‘Ellipsis’
“… a sense of the oceanic is achieved with the minimum of words and props” – Pascale Petit on ‘Midnight Pickup’
“… there is cleverness here, playfulness and personality” – Martin Noutch at London Grip. Read the full review.
“… a beautifully balanced short pamphlet collection… each (poem) absolutely earns its place”– from Clare Best’s review in The Frogmore Papers 84
March 2014, ISBN 978-09928555-0-5
The Great Vowel Shift, £4 plus 60p postage (UK)
If you’d like to order more than one copy, or for orders outside the UK, please drop me a line at email@example.com
I’ve written some ‘how to’ books on blogging & social media, based on 15 years’ experience in online marketing…
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More tips on how to manage Twitter and make best use of it – finding people and topics that matter, getting organised with a dashboard and building your valuable Twitter network. Tablet/Kindle and PDF versions.
£2.99 – full details and download/buy from my business website. (Offer: £4.99 for both Twitter ebooks in PDF format).
11 January 2019 – Poets Cafe, South Street Arts Centre, Reading
28 November 2018 – Open Mic Poetry, Chichester
5 October 2018 – Poetry Swindon Festival
25 April 2018 – launch of Telltale Press Anthology, Lewes
5 April 2018 – Needlewriters, Lewes
20 March 2018 – Kent & Sussex Poetry Society, Tunbridge Wells
22 February 2018 – launch of new pamphlet All the Relevant Gods (Cinnamon Press) at the Printers Playhouse, Eastbourne. Reading with Stephen Bone who is launching his Indigo Dreams pamphlet Plainsong, and special guests Antony Mair and Sarah Barnsley.
19 December 2017 – launch of Coast to Coast to Coast 2 at the Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool
13 November 2017 – Loose Muse, Discovery Centre, Winchester
1 November 2017 – Telltale Press & Friends, The Poetry Cafe, London
10 October 2017 – InWords, West Greenwich Library, London SE10 – with contributors to the ‘Pictures & Poems’ blog of the Mary Evans Picture Library
27 September 2017 – Eastbourne Poetry Cafe, the Underground Theatre, Eastbourne, with Hastings Stanza poets
28 July 2017 – reading at launch of Magma 68, The London Review Bookshop
30 June 2017 – Hastings Stanza reading at The Bookkeeper, St Leonard’s on Sea
2 April 2017 – launch of ‘Best New British & Irish Poets 2017’ (Eyewear)
29 November 2016 – reading at The Troubadour, London
5 October 2016 – reading at the launch of Jess Mookherjee’s The Swell (Telltale Press) at the Pitcher and Piano, Tunbridge Wells
29 July – reading at the St Anne’s Festival, Lewes
9 July – reading at St Leonard’s Festival event with members of Hastings Stanza
8 July – reading at The Writers’ Place, Jew Street, Brighton, for New Writing South
29 June – reading at the launch of Abegail Morley’s The Skin Diary (Nine Arches Press) at the Pitcher and Piano, Tunbridge Wells
20 April – reading at Poetry at the Underground Theatre Cafe, Eastbourne, event includes open mic
13 April – reading at Telltale Press & Friends, The Lewes Arms, Lewes with Abegail Morley, Sarah Barnsley and Rebecca White
23 March – reading at Word on Wednesday with members of the Needlewriters collective – Jeremy Page, Janet Sutherland & Clare Best, at the Nineveh Art Gallery in Havant
7 March 2016 – reading a poem at Coffee House Poetry at The Troubadour, ‘Sea’ themed night
23 November – reading for the Brighton Stanza at Stanza Bonanza with Kent & Sussex, Poetry Cafe, London
29 October – reading at Words & Ears, Bradford-on-Avon
16 October – reading at Albion Beatnik Bookstore, Oxford, at the launch of Martin Malone‘s new collection Cur
14 October – reading at launch of South 52, Cluny Hall, Lewes
22 June – reading at Camberwell Arts Festival, with Richard Skinner, Roy Marshall and Josephine Corcoran
18 June – reading at Telltale Poets & Friends, Poetry Cafe, London
14 June – reading at St Anne’s, Lewes, with Ann Segrave, Jeremy Page and Mandy Pannett
20 May – reading at the launch of Brittle Star issue 36, Barbican Library, London
3 May – reading alongside Patricia McCarthy & Jill Munro at Mayfield Fringe Festival
30 April – reading alongside Andreea Stan at Pighog/Red Hen Poetry Night, Brighton
25 April – on the expert panel at New Writing South Publishing Industry Day, Brighton
15 April – Telltale Poets & Friends (hosting), The Lewes Arms, Lewes
26 March – reading at the Needlewriters Anthology launch, Lewes
9 March – reading at Troubadour themed night Big Yellow Taxi!
22 January 2015 – Needlewriters, Lewes – reading alongside Kerry Evans and Bethan Roberts 7 January
2015 – Telltale Poets & Friends, Poetry Cafe, London – reading alongside Catherine Smith, Rhona McAdam, Siegfried Baber & Peter Kenny
8 December 2014 – Brighton Stanza Seasonal event, reading
26 November 2014 – Reading at the Poetry Society Annual General Meeting, Keats House, London, alongside Daljit Nagra and Susannah Fitzpatrick
1 October 2014 – London, Poetry Cafe, Telltale Press public launch
24 September 2014 – Lewes, Telltale Press private launch event
17 September 2014 – Lewes, Telltale Press private launch event
25 June, Stanza Bonanza (poets from Brighton and Palmers Green) at the Poetry Cafe, London – reading and sharing the MC
5 June 2014, Special poetry evening in memory of Jo Grigg, Brighton
2 June 2014, Lamb Festival, All Saints Church, Edmonton
6 March 2014 – Albion Beatnik Bookstore, Oxford – launch of The Interpreter’s House 55
28 November 2013 – Tunbridge Wells Library, reading with Abegail Morley & friends
8 August 2013 – Bluegate Poets, Swindon
17 January 2013 – Ten Voice Stanza, Brighton
2009 and 2012 – Pecha Kucha Nights, Brighton: poetry inspired by and performed to photographs by Simon Dale
© Robin Houghton