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Over the past quarter of a century or so, Peter Robinson has gained a reputation for his lyric poetry, translations, and critical writings devoted to modern and contemporary verse.
Untitled Deeds is composed of sequenced aphorisms, observations, and remarks on such varied topics as the fear of death, mobile phones, conceptual art, international soccer, the linguistic behaviour of politicians, market forces, and, of course, the writing and reception of poetry. It is followed by The Draft Will, a series of prose-poems which explores some obscured questions of family history and the intimate nature of cultural inheritance, and then by Side Effects, a set of poems in prose which – as its title suggests – is concerned with the sorts of unexpected damage produced by various life crises. Readers of Peter Robinson’s work will find his formal sensitivity and imaginative intelligence equally in play here. Those new to his writings will have an unusual introduction to his abiding cultural and literary concerns.
‘It’s such features as the smoothly-articulated densities of observation and mental event and the careful placing of the figure representing the empirical Peter Robinson that confirm his singularity … close attention to the visual hints will show a poet intimately involved with the physical world and its evidences.’ —Roy Fisher
‘We need this kind of poetry.’ —Kate Price
‘Untitled Deeds, a book of aphorisms and prose fragments, is a departure, for him and a typically adventurous publication by Salt ... his prose is crisp and he has a good ear for the mix of closure and open-endedness that a good aphorism contains ... The last two sections ... are prose poem sequences of real intensity and intelligence, by turns memoir, speculation, lyric description and autobiographical fragment. In these pieces, Robinson returns to and amplifies his familiar subjects – family history, personal crisis, questions of culture, place and belonging – with renewed energy and force ... A new direction? Certainly an interesting and welcome one.’ —Patrick McGuinness, Poetry Review
‘Robinson’s book ... is experimental and internationalist in approach, an exploration of possibilities, a tangle of travels and journeys. The incredible variety of its kinships (from Barthes’ ‘Lover’s Discourse’ and Baudrillard’s ‘Fragments’ to Dr. Johnson and Dante) tell their own story about the sequence’s elusive, provocative nature ... Readers prepared to deliberate will want to spend more time tracing Robinson's careful and illuminating progress.’ —Peter Carpenter, The Use of English