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The Sheffield culture guide written by in-the-know locals

Ruby Robinson

The first time I heard Ruby Robinson read her poetry I was left wet-eyed and open-mouthed and have since been telling everyone I know about her. Her debut collection Every Little Sound was released in 2016 and was shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot prize and the Felix Dennis Forward Prize. It is full of deep and difficult thoughts and experiences handled with microscopic attention and care. In Ruby’s hands, words and remembered moments seem lighter; like airborne dandelion seeds caught and held for a few seconds, examined in the palm, and relinquished to the breeze again. Her work is candid, vulnerable and vigilant in its firm but gentle confrontation of freedom, responsibility and consequence. I had to ask her more…

How would you describe your work?
This is a difficult question. I write poetry for the page but beyond this it’s quite hard to pin down a description. I guess I’m interested in human relationships, how trauma impacts us, and concepts of love, loss and listening. Paying attention.

What inspires you?
My impetus to write usually comes from a desire to articulate an aspect of experience that seems not to have found an easy home in language. I write when I am confused or overwhelmed by the injustice of a situation, for example, or by assumptions and misconceptions that are accepted without question. This also inspires the other work I do, raising awareness of how to support people who have had particular experiences, for example of being in care or of becoming estranged from family.

What's your workspace like?
I usually work from home but I’ve also just taken on a small studio space in a community of artists. I think I’ll end up spending a lot of time here.

What do you love about Sheffield?
I love pretty much everything about Sheffield. Proximity to the Peak, the fabulous woodlands and parks, friendly people, independent shops and cafes, the pubs, the climbing community, the street art, hills, the list goes on…!

What would you do to improve the city?
Preserve trees, reduce traffic, eradicate littering and fly tipping. We have a beautiful city and it needs to be treasured.

What are you currently working on?
I’m currently reading up on the wonderful poet and philosopher Denise Riley for my PhD studies.

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