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Ruby Robinson: Every Little Sound

Shortlisted for the T S Eliot Prize 2016

Ruby Robinson introduces Every Little Sound

Every Little Sound, as the title suggests, has much to do with listening. The title poem, ‘Internal Gain’, takes its concept from a response in the nervous system that makes us extra sensitive to signs of danger when we are feeling under threat. One way in which this phenomenon manifests itself, in people with hearing, is in sensitivity to sounds, but it is much broader than this. I am interested in the way a nervous system is rigged to respond to interpersonal threat and how relationships can shape our sense of self and our emotional wellbeing.

The collection also entreats the reader to pay attention and to be open to people’s experiences. Some of the poems explore voices (physical and figurative) that are shunned, denied or overpowered in our society. There are some poems, such as ‘Flashback’, ‘Truth’ and ‘Apology’, which attempt to voice experiences and damaging relationships that I have witnessed within my family. In this sense, there is a confessional tone to the collection. That is not to say that all the poems are personal accounts, but I have written many poems from personal experience and with genuine, passionate conviction. The long poem, ‘Apology’ feels to me like the central poem of the collection. It takes more risks in its tone and content and is perhaps the most confessional poem in the book.

Many of the poems in the book are conversational in tone and either address the reader directly, or else directly address a second person other than the reader. I have found that, as such, the poems sometimes resonate quite intimately with audience members at readings. It is important to me that, whilst maintaining an element of enigma, the poems are accessible to a wide audience. I’m interested to find out more about what readers feel in response to the poems in Every Little Sound; whether the poems prompt readers to consider their own relationships and families, or whether they feel at a distance from the characters in the book and the voices in the poems.

Ruby Robinson lives and works in Sheffield. She was born in Manchester in 1985 before spending most of her childhood living in South Yorkshire. She studied English Literature at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, before returning to Sheffield. She graduated with an MA from Sheffield Hallam University, where she also won the Ictus Prize for poetry. Ruby’s poems have appeared in The Poetry Review, Poetry (Chicago) and elsewhere. Her debut collection Every Little Sound was published in April 2016 by Pavilion Poetry, an imprint of Liverpool University Press and has been shortlisted for both the 2016 Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection and the 2016 T S Eliot Prize.


Hartlepool Central Library, York Road, Hartlepool, TS26 9DE
Wednesday 15 March, 5pm (Exploring Poetry), followed by reading at 6.30pm

Newcastle City Library, Charles Avison Building, 33 New Bridge Street West, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 8AX
Wednesday 10 May, 5pm (Exploring Poetry), followed by reading at 6pm

Morpeth Chantry, The Chantry, Bridge Street, Morpeth, NE61 1PD
Thursday 18 May, 6pm (Exploring Poetry), followed by reading at 7.15pm

North Bridlington Library, Martongate, Bridlington, YO16 6YD
Wednesday 14 June, 2pm, (Exploring Poetry), followed by reading at 4pm

Norton Library, 87 High Street, Norton, TS20 1AE
Wednesday 21 June, 5.30pm (Exploring Poetry), followed by reading at 6.30pm

Advance booking is advisable and all events may be subject to change. See our individual event listings for further information.

View the reading guide

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