Every Little Sound

BookEvery Little Sound

Every Little Sound

Pavilion Poetry


February 26th, 2016

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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.'
Colette Bryce

'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.'
Julia Corpus

'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.'
Paul Farley

'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.'
osephine Corcoran

'Robinson retains/regains an artistic distance that augurs well for future collections...'
Martyn Crucefix

'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

'Robinson's work remains outward-looking, inviting us in from the very first line. [...] In the absence of answers, the speaker instead finds a voice – and the words – through which to articulate herself. Reflecting upon her mother’s life, she recognises the ease with which we adopt or are forced into destructive roles in intimate relationships, replaying them years later. [...] These liberating lines come from having at last found a space for expression following years of oppressive silence, while maintaining a safe distance from face-to-face interaction, for now.'Lucy Winrow, The Manchester Review

Author Information

Ruby Robinson was born in Manchester in 1985 and lives in Sheffield. She studied English Literature at the University of East Anglia and has an MA from Sheffield Hallam University where she also won the Ictus Prize for poetry. Her poems have appeared in The Poetry Review, Poetry (Chicago) and elsewhere.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
Reader, listener,9
Locked Doors24
My Mother25
This Night38
Watching TV41
Internal Gain42
Breathe Deep43
Love II47
How to Catch a Pebble49
Talisker Bay52
Tuning Fork53
To my Family54
Notes and Acknowledgements57