Waterloo Press

Robert Dickinson

ISBN 978-1-906742-12-6

Robert Dickinson was born in London in 1962, has worked in finance in both the private and public sectors. Has published poems in numerous magazines. In association with The Extra Theatre Company, has written plays, including Murder’s Last Case (2004). In the same year he was commissioned to write the libretto for a choral piece on the pilgrimage to Santiago, which received its premiere at the 2005 City of London Festival.

‘Where does it hurt? In Battersea’ — so begins this exceptional collection in surreal tone. For those who have followed Dickinson’s work on the page, stage, and radio (Poetry Please), Micrographia has been worth the wait.

This is a riveting collection, lit throughout by a balisage of startling imagism calibrated with antiquity: ‘...we remember Saint Euphorion// sweeter than attar of roses’ (‘Proofs’). Scholastic acedia is counterbalanced with a papyri-dry wit that makes these poems compulsively readable and anything but fustian. The caustic ‘The fall of Troy’ tramples Homeric hyperbole, while the Pythonesque ‘The Apocalypse re-enactment society’ drops in on a celestial Sealed Knot who restage historic military massacres to alleviate eternity. History, ancient and recent, is Dickinson’s satirical stomping ground, which he roves round with a zoom lens. This filmic motif occasionally reels in cameos from cult cinema: Travis Bickle crops up allusively in ‘The Taxi Driver Year’, while ‘I am a bullet’ cocks a snook at a Mockney James Fox in Performance. ‘Locus desperatus’ satirises Austenite archetypes of period drama: ‘...a tableau of Regency daughters:/ Aphasia, Agnosia, and pallid Alexia’. But it is in ‘Biopic’ that Dickinson’s director’s eye swells into full panoramic scope with a life recounted via peripatetic cuts and flashbacks: ‘...a woman I’ve never seen/ reaching down in soft focus. Memories. Details’. Aphoristic captions abound — ‘Hackney will pass for Vienna’, ‘the jump cut of August’, ‘Politics as broken windows’— and there’s a bashfully English trope in which a girl pushes against him in a ‘period dress/ designed to restrict precisely this movement’. Armed with aphorism and crypticism, Dickinson turns past and present on their heads, infectiously. Now you’ve seen the trailer, read the full flick.




Dickinson’s poems deliver the impact of myths ... in styles which combine craft, intelligence and humanity.
Jackie Wills

Robert Dickinson’s poetry crackles with energy and wit; utterly clear-sighted, it’s also compassionate, exploring the emotional territory of those on the margins — oddballs, conspiracy theorists, and, in the extraordinary ‘Biopic,’ a character whose life is kaleidoscoped into a series of startling visual memories who asks us to ‘Look closely at my hands./ However much they tremble, they are young.’ Sensuous and surprising, these poems are constantly probing the possibilities of language — and the question of what it means to be human.
Catherine Smith

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