Shortlisted for the 2016 Forward Prize for Best First Collection and the 2016 T S Eliot Prize for Best Collection.
Drawing from neuroscience on the idea of 'internal gain', an internal volume control which helps us amplify and focus on quiet sounds in times of threat, danger or intense concentration, Ruby Robinson's brilliant debut introduces a poet whose work is governed by a scrupulous attention to the detail of the contemporary world. Moving and original, her poems invite us to listen carefully, and use ideas of hearing and listening to explore the legacies of trauma. The book celebrates the separateness and connectedness of human experience in relationships, and our capacity to harm and love.
The most vital poetry is fuelled by truth, even when it may expose us to the source of pain. Ruby Robinson’s poems enact this risk with great skill, reaffirming the power of the art. Every Little Sound is an extraordinary first collection from a very gifted young poet.
Robinson is concerned with 'the gaps between – when sets are dismantled and rebuilt, or a tortoise hibernates while all human life continues around it. In poems that pulse with sensory detail – the sun pushing through iced air, a horizon 'enflaming' the shallows at the water’s edge – her poetry amplifies the quietest, habitually unheard, sounds of our lives. There is a metaphysical sensibility - at work in poems like the wonderful ‘Undress’ – a modern take on the resistant lover trope, but with a delicious twist: while Donne and Marvell stop short of a resolution, Robinson’s fictional lover is marvellously yielding. Her crisp phrasing and relentless reaching after the truth make hers a rare and powerful new voice. Ruby Robinson is one to watch.
Ruby Robinson is a real find. Her agile and poised poems play with scale, listen out and in, and crank the gain up on the world. It’s great to discover such an exciting debut.
To read 'Apology' in full is to be within the experience of the speaker. In part because of the hardness of language, clinical at times, the poem, and the collection, is irreparably moving.
Angelina d'Roza, Antiphon
Several ventures into prose and long-narrative confessional poetry punctuate the collection...and are stunning precisely on account of their grace and restraint.
Theophilus Kwek, The London Magazine
These are taut, vibrant, intimate poems, structured in a such a way as to replicate the complicated manoeuvres our brains make as we try to understand human behaviour.
Robinson retains/regains an artistic distance that augurs well for future collections...
From the outset, we are forewarned – there is nothing so personal that it cannot be expressed here. Robinson brings to light the unspoken connection between reader and poet, and even in the darkest of lines, empathy arises.
Frances Kelly, Dundee University Reviews of the Arts
Every Little Sound had the most profound impact on me.
Noel Williams, The North
An intelligent and disturbing debut that explores how family affects both our sense of self and our intimate relationships. Composed of free verse and occasional prose poems, it is stylistically original in its diction and syntax as speaker and poet grapple to render experience.
Carrie Etter, The Guardian
There are too many examples of good poetry in this book for any review outside of a monograph to do it justice. Perhaps all that needs to be said is that this is a serious arrival of a poet that I would view to be among our absolute best.
The Next Review
Ruby Robinson's Every Little Sound opens with a summary of the concept of 'internal gain': 'an internal volume control which helps to amplify and focus upon quiet sounds in times of threat, danger, or intense concentration'. The result is a set of hyperreal observations, transcending the everyday and unlocking its latent Gothic menace.
John Field, Poor Rude Lines
There is a profoundly thrilling menace behind these poems and how they dismantle the body...Every Little Sound is a book you’d cheer for even if it weren’t the underdog.
The Oxonian Review
‘Past’ kind of took my breath away when I first read it...The poem seems to be directly addressing the reader, as if we are part of that confession, as if we are the one being spoken to.
Kim Moore, Poetry