Robin Richardson wields an arsenal of striking turns of phrase in her volcanic third collection of poetry. Richardson, who divides her time between Toronto and New York, comes across as poetry’s answer to the American comedian Sarah Silverman; both women have a barbed wit and a penchant for baring uncomfortable social truths. Richardson alludes sardonically to female stereotypes in pop culture and literature (fairy tales, in particular); “I am built of myth and girly bits,” she writes. She dramatizes male-female relationships as danger zones and battlegrounds, and derides the depiction of romance in film, “where love escapes unscathed:/ fat babe with bow and arrow,/indiscriminate a criminal as some/drunk, disgruntled gunman.” For all its fierceness, Richardson’s poetry is animated by an awareness of female vulnerability. As she puts it devastatingly in one poem, “Remember breakability the lamp that like a bat /came down on all the faces of the girls in women’s bodies.”
- The Toronto Star
"Robin Richardson’s poems take no prisoners, have a strange and authentic music all their own, and mark her, with this haunting second book, as one of the best young poets of her generation."
Richardson writes for the ear, eye, and mouth. You will want to read these lush poems out loud.
- Matthea Harvey
Arc Poem of the year judge's comments: I keep returning to this poem because every time I read it it feels new. The movement from moment to moment and image to image create a nightmare logic, and unpunctuated lines fill me with a breathless anxiety. Like a nightmare I can never quite remember what comes next though I always remember how it ends. The horrific is punctuated by moments of wonder. Nina Jane Drystek
Judge's comments: Of the over 350 poems considered, this one particularly stood out for seeming to combine the unlikely elements of eroticism, environmentalism, science and myth, with wit and surprise. Readers in North America will not be surprised - Richardson is a rising star there, and this poem shows why - its contemporary twist on metaphysical poetics is as dark as P. Lockwood's, her self-examination as Algonquin Round Table whip-smart as E. Berry's; there are perhaps a dozen younger women poets now writing in English, vying to be our age's Plath. (Hera L. Bird also comes to mind). Here we have Canada's answer to that seemingly futile, morbidly appealing quest. But this poem is far more than that would imply - its own glamorous volatility, medical weirdness, and brilliance of metaphor, is rather original. - Dr. Todd Swift
This is the kind of collection to keep handy, to read when life doesn't make sense. Robin is the great explainer, the unraveller of mysteries and experiences are magnified, turned inside out and pinned to the wall in a way that you will never forget.
Lisa de Nikolits
Richardson has a talent for disquieting images that amuse and disturb in equal measure... a precise, pristine poet, Richardson always delights"
- Jonathan Ball
"What a strange and wonderful world we find in Robin Richardson’s new book of poems! A world alive with danger and truth. A world much like our own though somehow even more real. Richardson is not just a poet with her own exciting Voice but a poet with an enigmatic Vision. How wonderful to get this chance to see what she sees."
"Galloping ghosts, pooka horses, coin-fed Gods and chocolate models alike pause in the high delight of Knife Throwing Through Self-Hypnosis. Robin Richardson’s amazing second collection zings along with precision turn, heady phrase and tight line. A seducing, inviting collection of poems that simultaneously stands like a gentle breeze and like a bouncer unafraid to put you in a headlock."
- David McGimpsey
Robin Richardson's Knife Throwing Through Self-Hypnosis opens as though Richardson were the tail gunner in a dive-bombing airplane being chased through the sky. She is letting it all fly. These gem like poems are stacked with unthinkably charismatic lines of poetry. Imagine a wood-chipper in reverse, the news, the detritus of the world, all of it spewing at pace towards the mouth of the chipper, these solid oak poems coming out the other end.
- Michael Dennis
Emotive engagement is established by the accretion of sensory details, all attentive to this singular, approachable character. And the end is aurally powerful, capable of stabbing a simple scene in the reader’s psyche in the manner of a Faulkner or O’Connor.
- Catherine Owen
Richardson uses the poetic image like a tourniquet on the eyes while a self-aware wound is inflicted elsewhere in the imagination.
- Margaret Christakos
Robin Richardson’s “Knife Throwing Through Self-hypnosis” was the final book to arrive. This book is explosive in thought. Her mind is truly one of an artist. Each line I read was so creative and perfectly placed within the poem. Robin’s words displayed the same meticulous thought in their arrangement as a chess player would use carefully moving knights and bishops. I was not surprised having read some of her work online and seeing her YouTube clips. She is someone I will read for many years to come. A true artist, fearless with her words of poetry. Check out her work today.
- Jason E. Hodges
Robin Richardson’s poetry is sensually morbid and reaches behind the depths of indifference and longing to reveal the tension of human communication as it twists through the corridors of the places we don’t want to look; like what rots in the shadow of a caress and what stains does innocence leave on beauty? She gargles the half empty glass and savours the dregs while others drink the half full glass and chase it with indifference.
- A Voice for Toronto