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Poet, author, reformed marketer

The official poet biog

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

The chatty version

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.  

Poetry published

The story so far: where published, competitions, awards etc. Plus links to reviews & interviews.

A couple of poems

Long haul

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.

Ronan face-the-wall

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

Ronan daddy-come-home

Eilish with her cocked foot, Brigid
in her bed. Jesus, Mary Mother of God
and all the Saints are listening to you

Ronan fear-of-flying

Ronan nowhere over an ocean

First published in The Interpreter’s House 62, 2016

The long-haired girls

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

Poetry Pamphlets

My first pamphlet The Great Vowel Shift was published by Telltale Press in 2014. 

A second pamphlet All the Relevant Gods is forthcoming in early 2018 from Cinnamon Press.

The Great Vowel Shift - Robin Houghton

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)

Buy Now Button

If you’d like to order more than one copy, or for orders outside the UK, please drop me a line at 

'How to' Books

I’ve written some ‘how to’ books on blogging & social media, based on 15 years’ experience in online marketing…

Blogging for Writers by Robin Houghton
Blogging for Writers (Ilex Press, 2014)

“Really helpful book with clear explanations and good examples.” 

£14.99 from good booksellers or from Amazon.

Blogging for Creatives - Robin Houghton
Blogging for Creatives (Ilex Press, 2012)

“Easy and inspiring for beginners and those blogging for a while.” The example websites are now most out of date, but much of the advice still holds.

About £12 from good booksellers or from Amazon.

Golden Rules of Blogging - Robin Houghton UK cover2
The Golden Rules of Blogging (and when to break them) (Ilex Press, 2015)

“An extremely easy to read, yet supremely useful, publication.” 

About £10 from good booksellers or from Amazon.

How to Use Twitter (ebook, 2016)

“A primer of actionable tips with easy-to-follow illustrations shows how best to use this powerful networking tool..”  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).

Get More Out of Twitter by Robin Houghton
Get More out of Twitter (ebook, 2017)

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).

Readings & Events


Long haul

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