Poet, author, reformed 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, and a second pamphlet All the Relevant Gods is forthcoming in 2018 from Cinnamon Press. 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, and it made me serious about writing and reading poetry.
Since then I’ve had quite a few poems published, and my second pamphlet (short collection) is coming out with Cinnamon Press in early 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.
Forthcoming: All the relevant gods, Cinnamon 2018
In print: The Great Vowel Shift, Telltale Press, March 2014
Ann Born Prize 2017, Commended. Judged by Rachael Boast.
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.
Envoi 176 (June 2017) ‘First Salsa in Cusco’
Magma 68 (July 2017) ‘Outtakes’
Obsessed with Pipework 79 (August 2017) ‘Orientation’, ‘Dream|Job’ & ‘Reorganisation’
Prole 23 (August 2017) ‘Before the splicing’
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 (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 The Great Vowel Shift poetry pamphlet:
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
In a bulkhead seat, in this no-place,
at no hour – Ronan stay-at-home,
Ronan friend-in-need, it’s time.
Look up, Ronan
at the knock-knock of fibreglass,
like the slow chipping out of teeth.
A small grimace of rivets holds you.
wallet ready, start your slide show –
Eilish on the Falls Road, smiling,
cocked foot, Brigid awake in her cot
and you nowhere, then as now–
gently through your hands go
their laughs, a rosary of images.
Pray for the pulse in your thumb
to steady the winds, go hush-a-by
Eilish with her cocked foot, Brigid
in her bed. Jesus, Mary Mother of God
and all the Saints are listening to you
Ronan nowhere over an ocean
First published in The Interpreter’s House 62, 2016
Take hold of a rope plait, or a bunch,
and you could puppet their heads,
or climb up to a single Rapunzel bed.
They have dreamt up their tresses
over break, between iced laughs
and flicked glances at passing boys.
The prize is long enough to sit on,
its surface dead flat, shinier than glass
ceilings, trussed in a my-little-ponytail.
They examine for split ends daily,
sucking them better, and if they think
you haven’t noticed, they’ll let it down
before you can blink, shake it all free,
make you look at the sly dip and drop
of curtains across one slow eye.
First published in The Rialto 81, 2014
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£2.99 – full details and download/buy from my business website. (Offer: £4.99 for both Twitter ebooks in PDF format).
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