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Robin Robertson is from the north-east coast of Scotland. He has published five collections of poetry and received a number of accolades, including the Petrarca-Preis, the E. M. Forster Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and all three Forward Prizes. He has also edited a collection of essays, Mortification: Writers' Stories of Their Public Shame, translated two plays of Euripides, Medea and the Bacchae, and, in 2006, published The Deleted World, a selection of free English versions of poems by the Nobel laureate Tomas Transtroemer. He lives in London.
The Long Take remarkably captures linguistic styles of 1940s American writing - Saroyan and Steinbeck. As it progresses into the mid-50s we're hearing Ginsberg and Baldwin...you will be washed in all these when you read this poem... Robertson has chosen a supremely uncomfortable, recognizable flashpoint in US history, an almost perfect mirror image of the nation today: crude, newly unleashed material ambitions mix with off-the-chart levels of fear and paranoia. -- Todd McEwen * Sunday Herald * The Long Take, by Robin Robertson, is a narrative in verse set in the immediate post-war years in America, that is at once heartbreaking and bracing. Think of it as the best black and white 1940s movie you will ever encounter in print. -- John Banville * Guardian, Best summer books 2018 * The Long Take is a bullet of a book. It is deeply noir, scything open post-war Los Angeles to show us a living, breathing city: a complicated social setting with cinema layered into its very fabric, a place growing at the expense of many of its most vulnerable citizens. It is a bold book - both imaginative and brave - but, more than that, it is a book that hits its target. It flies. It feels true. -- Ryan Gattis, author of <i>All Involved</i> <b><i> </i></b> Immersive, virtuosic... the beauty of The Long Take lies in Robertson's seemingly effortless ability to evoke the magic of cinema on every page. Juxtaposing poetry with prose, dialogue with diary, flashback with the narrative present, Robertson has invented a hybrid genre liberated by its own hybridity, which breathes new air into the music of the English language...the book sings a coherent music that has a fine ring of truth and risk. ... One of the most moving records in recent times of human fragility, ambition, injustice, violence, and our deeply troubled path through cities and nature...The Long Take will be remembered for its unparalleled originality, and an uncompromising power of storytelling that transcends the boundaries of film, fiction and poetry. -- Kit Fan * Poetry Review * Although The Long Take is definitely a poem, I can't think of anything quite like it ... modern, complex, political ... The Long Take is very much in line with the tradition that inspired it, not least when Robertson emphasizes the dead streets of Los Angeles , and the possibility that the United States, with its hatred of the other, might soon turn fascist... A remarkable work...a poem that's long been waiting to be written... Though rooted in a specific time and place, The Long Take's larger theme is the capacity of greed and politics to turn hope into despair. In this way, the poem speaks to the present as well as to the past. * Los Angeles Review of Books * The lyric poem, common to these times, can be said to contain a tiny story. Having held his readers in the grip of many small tales, Robin Robertson now launches into a full narrative telling, which is alive with the details of post-war American life as well as the jumpy subjective life of its protagonist. The Long Take will thrill you with its shadowy mysteries and cinematic intensity. -- Billy Collins Like all of Robertson's work, I approached The Long Take with great anticipation, for few writers so expertly pull the curtains back on the many collective fictions, both ancient and new, that constitute our understanding of the world. All of Robertson's extraordinary gifts as a writer are on display here: his probing intelligence and wit, the strangely tactile beauty of his lines, and his stubborn refusal to ignore all that lingers unaccounted for at the edges of our vision. I was genuinely bowled over by it. -- Kevin Powers, author of <i>The Yellow Birds</i> An inter-genre tour de force, The Long Take is a restless reimagining of conventional poetics. Through the poem's protagonist, Robertson has cast a national, cultural, psychological and class outsider of vibrant and seedy post-war America into a palpable anti-hero eerily resonant with our contemporary world. With syncopated rhythms, staccato dialogue and jump-scenes, the book weaves dizzying, jazz-like meditations on PTSD, masculinity, betrayal and salvation by embodying, in sound, scent and sixth-sense, one of America's most hopeful and devastating decades. The result is a ravishing achievement. -- Ocean Vuong, author of <i>Night Sky with Exit Wounds</i>, winner of the T.S. Eliot Prize <b> </b> The Long Take shows it is perfectly possible to write poetry which is both accessible and subtle, which has a genuine moral and social conscience . . . Robertson manages a remarkable strike rate for keeping the language unsettling and honed, often by judicious assonance and alliterations . . . This is a major achievement and will linger long in the reader's mind -- Stuart Kelly * Scotsman on Sunday * The words flow like the frames of a classic film masterpiece. -- Mike Hodges, filmmaker, <i>Get Carter</i>, <i>Croupier</i>, <i>I'll Sleep When I'm Dead</i> This is a poem-cum-novel by Scottish writer Robin Robertson, the prize-winning author of five previous poetry collections, which is a cinematic road trip through America. It's from the point of view of Walker, a discharged World War II combat vet. Rather than return to Canada at the end of the war, he drifts from New York to Los Angeles to San Francisco. There are flashbacks to the war but he basically walks through an America which changes around him. It's an incredible achievement, showing how poetry can reach the parts narrative prose can't. -- Irvine Welsh * Metro * Robin Robertson, one of the finest lyric poets of the age, flexes his artistic reach in a continuous narrative of more than two hundred pages, a beautiful, vigorous and achingly melancholy hymn to the common man that is as unexpected as it is daring. Here we have a poet, at the peak of his symphonic powers, taking a great risk, and succeeding gloriously... The Long Take is a masterly work of art, exciting, colourful, fast-paced - the old-time movie reviewer's vocabulary is apt to the case - and almost unbearably moving. -- John Banville * Guardian * The Long Take is like a film noir on the page. A book about a man and a city in shock, it's an extraordinary evocation of the debris and ongoing destruction of war even in times of peace. In taking a scenario we think we know from the movies but offering a completely different perspective, Robin Robertson shows the flexibility a poet can bring to form and style. -- Man Booker judges' citation