Roger Robinson (poet)

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Roger Robinson
Robinson at Out of Many Lit Fest in Leeds
Hackney, London, England
  • Writer
  • musician
  • performer
Notable workA Portable Paradise

Roger Robinson is a British writer, musician and performer who lives between England and Trinidad.[1] Best known for A Portable Paradise which won the T. S. Eliot Prize 2019.[2][3]

Early life[edit]

Robinson was born in Hackney, London, to Trinidadian parents, and at the age of four went with them to live in Trinidad, returning to England when he was 19[4] in the 1980s,[5] He initially lived with his grandmother in Ilford, Essex, before moving to Brixton.[6] He describes himself as "a British resident with a Trini sensibility".[7]

Spoken Word, Dub, Music[edit]

From early 1990s Robinson practiced as spoken-word performer in London. He has performed with band Techno Animal, Flytronix, The Bug, Attica Blues and Speeka.[8] Robinson is the lead vocalist for musical crossover project King Midas Sound. Their debut album Waiting for You was released on Hyperdub Records,[9][10] and was named in the top 50 releases of 2009 in Wire Magazine.[11] His solo album of spoken folk, illclectica, was named by Mojo Magazine as in the top 10 electronic albums for that year.[12] In 2015 he released Dis Side Ah Town described as "an album that lyrically recalls the most incisive and suggestive lyricists in dub and roots reggae".[13]

His one-man spoken word shows The Shadow Boxer, Letter from My Father's Brother and Prohibition all premiered at the British Festival of Visual Theatre at Battersea Arts Centre.Robinson's commissions have included work for the Theatre Royal Stratford East, the National Trust, London Open House, the National Portrait Gallery, LIFT and the Tate.[1]


In 1999 Robinson was one of 30 poets chosen for the New Generation Poets collection at the National Portrait Gallery, London. Robinson went on to publish four collections of poetry between 2004 and 2019. Robinson has toured with the British Council.

In 2010 his collection Suckle won the People's Book Prize.[9][5]

His 2013 collection The Butterfly Hotel was one of three poetry titles shortlisted for the 2014 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature.[14]

A Portable Paradise (Peepal Tree Press) won the T. S. Eliot Prize 2019.[2][3] Robinson is the second writer of Caribbean heritage to win this prize, the highest value award in UK poetry, following Derek Walcott in 2010.[15] Robinson's victory was further described as significant for small presses. A Portable Paradise went on to be the second book of poetry to win the Ondaatje Prize in May 2020.[16][17]

Poetry Community[edit]

Until 2000 Robinson was programme co-ordinator of the performance poetry organisation Apples and Snakes. His workshops have been a part of a shortlist for the Gulbenkian Prize for Museums and Galleries and were also a part of the Barbican Centre's Can I Have A Word.[18] He is a co-founder of London poetry collective Malika's Poetry Kitchen with fellow poets Malika Booker and Jacob-Sam La Rose [19] Robinson was chosen by arts organisation Decibel as one of 50 writers who have influenced black-British writing over the past 50 years.[1]


  • Suitcase (poetry), Flipped Eye Publishing, 2005. ISBN 978-0954224776
  • Suckle (poetry), Waterways Series, 2009. ISBN 978-190-523-3212
  • The Butterfly Hotel (poetry), Peepal Tree Press, 2013. ISBN 978-1845232191
  • A Portable Paradise (poetry), Peepal Tree Press, 2019. ISBN 978-1845234331
  • Adventures in 3D (short fiction), Lubin & Kleyner, 2001.


  • Dog Heart City (Jahtari, 2017)
  • Dis Side Ah Town (Jahtari, 2015)
  • illclectica (Altered Vibes, 2004)

Awards and recognition[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Roger Robinson - Literature". Retrieved 6 January 2024.
  2. ^ a b c Cain, Sian (13 January 2020). "British-Trinidadian dub poet Roger Robinson wins TS Eliot prize". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 14 January 2020.
  3. ^ a b Flood, Alison (17 October 1919), "TS Eliot prize unveils shortlist of 'fearless poets'", The Guardian.
  4. ^ "Roger Robinson – biography", Meet the Poets, Barbican.
  5. ^ a b "Suckle poems by Roger Robinson". 21 November 2009. Retrieved 15 September 2022.
  6. ^ Armitstead, Claire (16 January 2020), "TS Eliot prize-winner Roger Robinson: ‘I want these poems to help people to practise empathy’", The Guardian.
  7. ^ Davina Morris, "Trini poet Roger Robinson", Trinidad and Tobago Newsday, 17 August 2009.
  8. ^ "Roger Robinson", Westbury Music.
  9. ^ a b "Roger Robinson", Book Slam.
  10. ^ "King Midas Sound", Festival Searcher.
  11. ^ "About", Roger Robinson.
  12. ^ Poets and Tutors, The Complete Works II.
  13. ^ Neil Kulkarni, "Reading The Riot Act: Roger Robinson Interviewed", The Quietus, 13 July 2015.
  14. ^ "Ten writers vie for the 2014 OCM Bocas Prize", Bocas Lit Fest, 25 February 2013.
  15. ^ Higgins, Charlotte (24 January 2011). "TS Eliot prize goes to Derek Walcott for 'moving and technically flawless' work". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 14 January 2020.
  16. ^ "RSL Ondaatje Prize 2020 Winner Announcement". The Royal Society of Literature.
  17. ^ a b Flood, Alison (4 May 2020). "Roger Robinson's poems of Trinidad and London win Ondaatje prize". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 5 May 2020.
  18. ^ "Roger Robinson's workshop", The Guardian, 24 November 2009.
  19. ^ "Malika's Poetry Kitchen". Malika's Poetry Kitchen. Retrieved 14 January 2020.

External links[edit]