Robbie Burton & ‘Someone Else’s Street’

Robbie Burton is the new Featured Writer this month.  Her debut pamphlet Someone Else’s Street was published by Happenstance Press who must be delighted to have published her first poetry pamphlet.  (The first?  You’d think she’d have oodles of books to her name. )

I met Robbie at Ledbury Poetry Festival this year and I was thrilled that someone suggested we swap books: perhaps it was Robbie herself?  Lucky me.  I read them all that night in my campervan because I couldn’t put the book down even though I was boss-eyed with tiredness. And I so hoped she might agree to be a Featured Writer and she did. Lucky me.

Unpredictable isn’t quite the word for her poetry …more like completely astonishing.  You would never guess in a month of Sundays where you were going to end up. It’s the little things you need to notice as well as what isn’t there, things left out, things denied, small absences.  In this book titles are definitely always part of the poem’s meaning, every word matters, every punctuation mark.  Take these poems from The Poetry Society; (Robbie Burton is a serial winner in the quarterly Poetry News Members Poems.)

The poem on that link called ‘Ford’ is the first one in Someone Else’s Street and brings a clear-eyed image of loss and absence.  She achieves these devastating poems in so short a space with simple diction and total commitment to craft.

Here’s another favourite of mine:


It’s a cool day in June.

A magpie in the hawthorn

Is collecting backbird’s eggs.

Thug. Mum collected

people, me, and her other

adoptee, the man from

Hebden Bridge who lodged

in her front room for over

forty years. He collected

stamps and one day

bequeathed them to me

along with a yellow Fiat126

and a strong dislike of wrong

prepositions. Especially

the one after different.


Line endings always make you stop and think for an instant.  The repeat of collected/collecting make you wonder where this is going.  There’s Robbie’s hallmark wise simplicity of language. Title and  ending make you want to shout ‘yes’. You will never forget this poem.

And she can be beautifully lyrical too:

From ‘Tempering’

‘When fat rain pockles the pond

We stroll to the house where

everyone’s hunkering under the stairs,

and I am taller, filled

with lightning, thunder and silence

resistant to any You should.


And then take  a look at ‘Love Poem’ which Robbie contributed to the Featured Writer’s page. This is a wise and funny and haunting poem.  I love the way she tells us so much when she claims that she isn’t, so we know there’s so much love ‘ music would blast through the words, letting out/ bus engine rumble and thud-thud-thud of boats’.

I have nothing but flabbergasted admiration for this poignant and humorous collection full of a kaleidoscope of perspectives. Well, she said she looks out of the window a lot.  It’s instructive and makes me green with envy.  And you can read more opinions on Sphinx Reviews here 







About Rebecca Gethin

Rebecca Gethin is a poet and a novelist. Cinnamon Press published her third collection, All the Time in the World in 2017. Another pamphlet is forthcoming with Three Drops Press. Her second novel, What the horses heard, was published by Cinnamon Press in May 2014. Her second poetry collection - A Handful of Water - was published by Cinnamon in 2013. Her first - River is the Plural of Rain - was published by Oversteps Books in 2009. Her novel Liar Dice won the Cinnamon Press Novel Writing Award in 2010 and was published in 2011. She lives on Dartmoor and writes occasional pieces about wildlife and nature. Her poems appear in a variety of poetry magazines and in several anthologies.
This entry was posted in Robbie Burton. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Robbie Burton & ‘Someone Else’s Street’

  1. Great to be introduced to this poet in such a way – love the choice of poems and they certainly make me feel I want to read more : ‘When fat rain pockles the pond’ ……… now there’s a line I wish I had written. Thanks Rebecca – such wonderful economy with words and yet so full of meaning and thought provoking power. Shall read more.

  2. E.E. Nobbs says:

    Super poems.Smart & exciting & very alive. Love the scary one about the hedge! Thanks Robbie & Rebecca. I can see from Rebecca’s introduction and Robbie’s poems that poets meeting other poets at festivals can be a great way for building friendships and sharing. And now by way of this blog the sharing goes even further. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s