Michael Symmons Roberts

Michael Symmons Roberts’s new collection, Ransom, is out this month.

Poem: ‘Custody of the Eyes’

Michael Symmons Roberts, 4 March 2021

After months of chin-on-chest,shoes scuffed on frozen hillside tracks,day-lit window dulled to lantern glow,papered frame-to-frame with pagesfrom penitential psalms,horizons contracted to the height of a man,

how do you choosethe moment to uncrick your neck,to lift your head’s dead weight,you now unguarded, raw again and open to it all,to take the sudden world in whole,and hope your heart...

Two Poems

Michael Symmons Roberts, 18 May 2017

Soliloquy of the Inner Emigré

The authorities asked us to call at noon, to test their new helpline. No one was available to answer our questions.

I kept the line open just in case, held the phone to my ear all afternoon, until its ringtone was my metronome.

Devolution is a constant process: each week I secede another stage, ratchet back and back

from every bloc until I am a law...

Poem: ‘Massacre of the Innocents’

Michael Symmons Roberts, 30 June 2016

It was just a handful – five or six – but they spread themselves around us, hid behind trees, began a sotto voce incantation made of nonsense: jingoistic rhymes, unsolvable riddles, misplaced bits of liturgy.

But rattling as it did off countless boughs and branches, this whispered cacophony convinced us that an army choked the forest. We pictured cities laid to ruin on the roads...

Poem: ‘Rehearsal for the Day of Joy’

Michael Symmons Roberts, 7 January 2016

The dancers are stretching, loosening in their dressing rooms, half-dressed

in a mess of costume rails, water glasses topped with a dusting of rouge.

Although it’s still too soon to dance, look at the rush of guttered rain through grids

to join the surge towards an open sea. See how the dry leaves catch in corners,

petals of a burnt manifesto caught in a breeze between...

Poem: ‘Cat’s-Eye’

Michael Symmons Roberts, 4 July 1996

There was a scramble for mementos when the road across the border was smashed up, and there was no way in or out of this province of great lakes and mountains. High on a terraced garden, where potatoes and carrots have begun to replace blooms, a broken cat’s-eye lies in its hand-sized block of rusted iron, and blinks at the house lights every night unseen. Close up, it’s like a...

Why should​ poets’ deaths carry more weight than those of others? David Markson’s litany of deaths, This Is Not a Novel, starts off with a poet’s death (Byron’s) and...

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Woozy: The Photographic Novel

Daniel Soar, 20 April 2006

Weegee, aka Arthur or Usher Fellig, invented a certain kind of photography. His pictures of New York street life – crime scenes, car wrecks, society girls, circus freaks, racegoers, rough...

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