Robert Selby - Portrait
Robert Selby
Sample of Work
This poem appeared in the anthology
Days of Roses II (2013)

The Weald below was white as a burial shroud.
I waited for my taxi to fight its way off,
then opened the pre-Reformation oak door.

The hush within almost matched the one without.
Two hundred mourners, and none looked around:
they were nearly all your flock, Ralph.

The vicar signed your eulogy with the arms
of a railing minister, but the countenance
of a calm faith. Hands spoke silent psalms.

Under the vaults, my mind was a shedding bough,
lightening at the fall of each good word,
interpreted from the transept. Sorry Ralph:

conscious of others with hearing, I only
mumbled the Lord's Prayer, but we were friends
because my life so differed from yours,

mention of which over chess was strictly
verboten, till brandy loosened your tongue
and you'd say how you'd only just begun.

Under the vaults, hemmed tight, in winter wear,
I smiled at an old expression of yours:
Hot as a blackbird nesting in a traffic light.

Relief: you were borne down the shining nave
into snow-light, a silence we broke
with our heels on the gritted steps.

Ralph, the diminuendo of startled birds
recalled our walks on clear days, while you
still could, in the grounds of your life's work.

[Dear Ralph Crozier]


My debut collection, The Coming-Down Time, was published by Shoestring Press on 25th June 2020. A website for the book - including recordings of me reading poems from it and links to where you can buy it - can be found at

The collection has so far been reviewed by Ambit, Caught by the River, the Los Angeles Review of Books, London Grip, and The Scores.

My debut pamphlet was published as part of Clutag's 'Five Poems' series in 2017. It is available to buy on Clutag's website here.

Poems ‘The End of the Horse Age’, ‘The Divide’ and ‘An Idle Wind’ – from The Coming-Down Time's ‘East of Ipswich’ sequence – were published in PN Review No. 249, Sept-Oct 2019. ‘Orford’, from the same sequence, was published in Areté, issue no.57, Winter 2018, while 'Saturday Morning Football' appeared in Poetry Birmingham, issue no. 4, Summer 2020. Poems 'When That Which is Perfect is Come' and 'The Big Guns' appeared in the 24 March 2018 issue and 22 October 2016 issue respectively of The Spectator.

My poem ‘Whitstable Cathedral’ appeared in The Spectator of 20 April 2019 and '10 Squadron' in the 9 May 2020 issue. Long war poem ‘Upon the Altar Laid’ appeared in Ambit 235, Winter 2019. ‘The Firecrests’, which first appeared in Ambit 216, Spring 2014, was republished in Ambit’s 60th anniversary issue, 237, Summer 2019. Poem ‘Inscriptions’ appeared in Vol.53, No.1-3 of Agenda, published in January 2020.

In the same issue of Agenda appeared ‘XII’ from The Coming-Down Time's ‘Chevening’ sequence, while ‘IV’, ‘V’, ‘VI’ and ‘VII’ went into the issue's online supplement. Poems ‘I’ and ‘III’ were published in Smoke No.69, December 2019, and Poetry Birmingham’s inaugural issue, Autumn 2019, respectively. The second poem from the sequence is forthcoming in the next issue of Smoke.

In November I attended Poetry in Aldeburgh for the first time, introducing a Wild Court showcase and also reading at the ‘Poets on Work & Play’ event.

My review of three new WS Graham books appeared in the 26 April 2019 issue of the TLS and can be read online here. A travel piece I wrote for Caught by the River, on WS Graham and Cornwall, is here.

A review of David Seabrook's All the Devils Are Here is on the same website here. My review of new collections by Jamie McKendrick and Philip Hancock appeared in PN Review 247, May-June 2019. An essay on Martin Booth’s The Knotting Poems is on The High Window here.

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