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Saturday, February 3, 2018

New Release: Adrian Manning & John D Robinson Looking Down Both Barrels (Holy & Intoxicated Publications, 2017) 32 pages

Looking Down Both Barrels is a chapbook which features the poetry of English poets Adrian Manning and John D Robinson. Asked recently about how the project came about Robinson said, "I remember Adrian contacting me with regards to the Poetry Card Series: it was perfect timing as I was just beginning to put together Series 4: Naturally, I was aware of Adrian Manning, not only his poetry but also his Concrete Meat Press and his friendship/ working with and publishing the late brilliant James D Quentin. Adrian is a poet and publisher that I have a great deal of respect and admiration for: when I proposed a split chapbook, I really was looking down both barrels and when Adrian accepted, I was blown away."

Adrian Manning contributes 15 poems to the chapbook. The writing is varied in subject matter and style. The sentences are highly measured and have an observational and contemplative edge to them. Although some poems border on sentiment or nostalgia others reveal a darker, wry side to Manning’s universe:


that we are judged
and criticised
at every turn

I fully expect
that when I am dead
some bastard will
say I’m not lying
still enough


we are the offspring
of the damned
we walk in dark surrender
towards the end of the night
never looking back

some are better than others
at being blind to it all
some are better than others
at hiding their fear

but we all walk onward
in dark surrender
no matter how much
you kid yourself
you are not.

John D Robinson contributes 12 poems which are characteristically first person and confessional narrative in form. Like many of us, Robinson sees poetry as “an obsession, an addiction, a love affair: I spend a great deal of my waking hours thinking of and about and reading poetry.” He was for a long time encouraged to begin publishing by his friend, poet and publisher, Josephine Austin (1934-2014).

Robinson uses everyday experiences, such as, watching tv, listening to his father weeping, getting his work rejected, relationship problems, killing a fly in a car and the like to tell stories through his poetry. The writing is candid, has a spontaneous feel to it and typically uses direct speech and expletives.

Robinson’s opening poem “WATCH-OUT” is characteristic of his style:


We opened all the windows
of the moving car, the fly was
ignoring this and flew around
the vehicle, irritating and
‘Kill it!’ I said as my wife
swiped at it across the steering-
wheel: the fucker was quick:
I saw it coming towards me, I
didn’t want to murder it:
I karate chopped it with my
right hand, stunning the
thing and knocking it
towards an open window,
instantly, I followed up with
a lightning left back hand
karate strike that knocked
the fly clean out of the car:
it was awesome, it took me
by surprise and I knew this
was a performance never to
happen again, I felt like a
codeine-hash stoned
Bruce Lee;
‘Did you see that?’ I asked
my wife,
‘See what?’ she said,
‘What I did with that fly’ I
‘Fuck the fly!’ she said,
sadly ignorant of my
breath-taking artistry.

The cover art is by the Swedish artist Janne Karlsson and features the sights of a double-barreled shot-gun. A blurb for the book suggests the poetry will blow you away: “Looking Down Both Barrels: The poems perforate the page like a scatter-gun blast of truth and dirty realism and humour.”

Find a review of Looking Down Both Barrels here:

An Amazon link to the book:

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