National Poetry Month Celebration: Robin Richardson | Book*hug Press

National Poetry Month Celebration: Robin Richardson

Try Not to Get Too Attached by Robin Richardson

Our National Poetry Month Celebration continues with Robin Richardson, author of Try Not to Get Too Attached, the second title in our new Salon Series.

In Try Not to Get Too Attached, Richardson uses line drawings, colour and text, to transpose the sensibility of poetry into illustrated works, creating bite-sized, artistic meditations on the terribly wonderful, malleable and absurd experience of being alive. Richardson’s intuitive works—inspired by medieval illuminated manuscripts—are drawn from fleeting, conscious contact with various notions and emotions; they feel their way around meaning and what it is to be human.

In a review for The Brooklyn Rail, Megan N. Liberty writes, “Richardson’s typewriter-style lines of text (which are all rendered by hand), embedded in what can only be described as medieval-style emojis, are bittersweet, at once the wry humor of a teenage girl and the dark wisdom of a grown woman.” Poet and academic Alessandro Porco adds, “Try Not to Get Too Attached is an incredibly haunting self-portrait, the visual record of one artist’s journey into the psyche’s frayed and messy reaches, where ‘everything is so vivid,’ as she puts it. I keep originals of Robin Richardson’s art on my walls to remind me of that vividness every day, whether it comes in the form of beauty or terror or something else altogether.”

Richardson reads the first untitled poem from the book in the following audio clip:

There is an old man playing with the eels he’s about to eat there is an old man
striking his hand against a rod his skin is coming off his blood is in your eyes
his hand will be useless all bone he is doing this to punish you there is a cliff
no one else is willing to scale halfway to the top there is a hole and through
the hole you see an old man a king a samurai slaughter his daughter there is
an old man who keeps some thousand fragile brightly coloured birds in four-inch
cages wants to take you out to dinner there is an old man wielding an axe he wants
your head there is a man putting a gun in your hand and telling you to shoot to kill
there is a man storming the restaurant he has a gun he is shooting randomly
he finds you says I need god to pay attention there is a prehistoric lion eating
a regular lion you are at the bottom of the stairs at the top is a train and on the
train you are cut repeatedly on the right arm with a blade held by a man there is
a black panther on top of you in the largest room you’ve ever seen you sweep
the room and once it’s clean it fills again with bees there are horses with no skin
there is a man who is a slug who is stuck at the bottom of the stairs there are
unicorns in the nightclub who turn to men when you straddle them who want to
fuck you there’s a maggot in your leg he said you have to kill the elephant using
only a straw full of water he said we had to get matching tattoos he dressed up
as Predator and there were five of him in the theatre at the top of the stairs
you were afraid to see the film he distracted you from the important little girl
he keeps telling you it’s okay when we know it isn’t he is pushing you around in
a shopping cart you get out and he breaks a dollar in half is angry you don’t care
go outside and put on white fur feel strong he is plucking the hair from your temple
he is bending you over he is feeding you drugs he is obstructing your view of
the sky he left the record on for years you had to stop it

(Remember to follow along all month as we celebrate our poets by sharing a poem each day on the Book*hug blog. Follow us as well on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram.)

Robin Richardson is the author of three collections of poetry, including Sit How You Want, winner of the 2019 Trillium Book Award for Poetry, and named one of the best books of the year by CBC Books. She is Editor-in-Chief at Minola Review. Her work has appeared in Salon, POETRY, The American Poetry Review, The Walrus, Hazlitt, Best Canadian Poetry, and Tin House, among others. She holds an MFA in Writing from Sarah Lawrence College, and a BD in Design from OCAD University. She has won the Fortnight Poetry Prize in the U.K., The John B. Santorini Award, The Joan T. Baldwin Award, and has been shortlisted for the CBC Poetry Prize, The Walrus Poetry Prize, and ARC Magazine’s Poem of the Year Contest, among others. She lives in Toronto.