‘Poetry can animate everything, so that life itself breathes through the line. It remembers passion. ... It can make us alive to something new or remembered. Coming out of the ordinary or the mystical, it calls us to ourselves; drawing into view the inner working relationships between the conscious and the unconscious; the passionate intensity of the feeling life as well as the corrugated pathways of thought. Using image to speak, it inspires awe at the way the poet can condense experience on the page.... Poetry can inform, renew, move, uncover understanding, create change’.
Robyn Rowland, ‘De-lyricising the lyric?’
Robyn Rowland’s poetry has always struck for the heart. Open and honest in its emotion, her work tries to capture the struggle of life lived on the edge of feeling. Valuing accessibility, her work has been described as ‘generous and passionate’ with a celebration of the ‘immediacy of experience’ and the ‘poignancy of happiness’. Following an Irish tradition of the narrative lyric, her work encompasses the moments in life for which we need words; words to act as rituals that hold us. Her themes include ‘the incompleteness, the unfinished edges of human love’ (Barrett Reid), death in its many forms; breast cancer and depression; language and silence; spiritual life.
Robyn values ‘a poetry of connection and communication’. Her second book, Fiery Waters contains some political poems, poems celebrating a love with a younger man, and a breast cancer sequence ‘The Great Way’. Two of her books have entered into the issues of exile and belonging as a third generation Irish Australian, a theme that emerged in her second book, Perverse Serenity (a narrative sequence of a love affair with an Irish monk) and continued in a newer form in Shadows at the Gate (after living in Ireland for some time).
Through more recent work, the lives of her children emerge as a shining way forward into experience, as they grapple with issues of a world torn and difficult. Her latest book, Silence & its tongues is a commentary through darkness and depression into the light and includes the long and highly praised sequence, 'Dead Mother Poems'.
Robyn also has a 100 minute CD of her work available, titled Off the tongue. Her readings have been deeply moving and inspiring and are often used by Poetica on Radio National, which also featured her work in a programme on three of her books: 'Shadows at the Gate: the poetry of Robyn Rowland'.
BBC Actor John Nettles said on Connemara radio in 2008 after Clifden Arts Week, that he comes to hear Robyn read in the west of Ireland, and named her as 'among the first rank of poets', impressed 'by her use of language, control of verse and wonderful delivery'. Her accent, he said, 'gives an added piquancy to her delivery' and the poetry is 'extraordinarily moving, wonderfully insightful' with 'a control of language I haven't come across since, well, TS Eliot. Like Dylan Thomas and Betjeman, you have to hear her yourself. She is the voice.'
This website contains some poems from the books as well as other writings and references to book reviews and articles Robyn has written on poetry only.
Robyn’s previous life as an international social science academic and researcher can be noted in her short academic biography, and those works can be accessed via the references contained there.