'Other Ranks' is a 900-line poem by John Robinson with an original score by jazz musician Paul Taylor. Written for three voices and six musicians, it also includes songs. The subject is an unsentimental, non-nostalgic examination of the situation of the volunteer proletarian soldier not only in World War One

but throughout history.

 'Other Ranks' is a combined arts, multi-media production involving poetry, music, visual arts and dramatic performance. The text is uncompromising and hard-hitting. The musical content will consist partly of set-piece compositions which will punctuate the action, partly of electronic music and soundscape which will at times underscore the text, as will improvised interventions by the instrumentalists to form a rich synthesis of words, music and effects which will be original, engaging and will complement and enhance the ideas within the text.

The Other Ranks script is now available on Kindle which you can buy from Amazon for £4.99 -

or if you're really quick you can get it at a special introductory price of just 99p​ but hurry! hurry!! hurry!!!




A limited edition pressing of the Other Ranks script with recorded music and selected readings is now available in combined book and CD form.

The words spoken by the author, John Robinson together with  Jim Higo, and Mickey Higgins who also performs the songs. Original music by Paul Taylor is performed by the composer on trombone with Martin Jones - trumpet, Matthew Smith - alto saxophone, Paul Sharpless - bass trombone, and Alan Drever-Smith - percussion.

Soundscapes by Phil Codd & design by Brian Tozer.

Recorded at Fairview Studios, Willerby, East Yorkshire, printed by McRay Press, Scarborough. January 2020. Recording Engineer: John Spence

Produced by Dave Ellis.


Book & CD together £10 (not currently available separately) + £2.20 pp in UK. ISBN 970-0-9564334-7-3

For ordering details go to the Contact page and submit an email.

Buy a Kindle version of the Other Ranks script on Amazon for £4.99 or listen to the tunes and purchase music tracks on: https://otherranks.bandcamp.com/album/

Finally, after all these years, a collection of poems has emerged. There are more than 180 in there, jostling and nudging each other, muttering oaths or greetings, hoping to share their helpings of sense and nonsense.

Better Late Than Sorry 

will help us all get a few things straight:

  • how to use a pencil

  • what to look for at the seaside

  • how to watch TV

  • what beer can do for you

  • how to look on the bright side

  • how to be less stupid

  • what use is a trombone

  • what to do on underground trains

  • how to measure wind

  • what spoons can do for you

  • how to enjoy poetry

  • what are those insects doing?

The book is now available at £4.69 on Amazon, Google Play and Kobo. There are free apps for phones, tablets and PCs: Kindle app      Kobo app       Google Play app


At some point, in 2021, a pocket paperback edition should emerge and be available at gigs and book parties.

"the cook's wedding" Ragged Raven Press 2001   ISBN 0 9520807 8 8    £6.99

"Supper at Ocean Villas" McRay Solo Press  2014  ISBN 9 780956 443482       £6.99


"Speech: trombone poetry" Words & Music by Paul Taylor   Blowpipes TP01

WARNING: may contain poetry!

"Zenoria" The Blowpipes.  Original compositions and arrangements by Paul Taylor for trombone trio

BPCD01 CD purchases: www.trombonepoetry.com                          



John Robinson was born in Hull in 1945. Although he has written poetry for many years he has a varied employment history as tripe-dresser, kiln maker, freelance journalist, truck driver, road builder, trombone player and local government officer.

   His poetry is nationally acknowledged and his first published collection 'the cook's wedding' (Ragged Raven Press, 2001), was admired by the renowned U A Fanthorpe who wrote

Photo: Paul Taylor

"... I especially like the vim, the large-heartedness, the celebration of life and locality...here is a poet who is fascinated by details (of all sorts)."        

   'Supper at Ocean Villas' (McRay Solo Press, 2014), and 'Other Ranks' are the result of a decade's research, supported by Arts Council England, following the footsteps of the Hull Pals, and in particular those of his grandfather, across the WW1 battlefields of France.


Paul Taylor is a jazz musician, poet, composer and teacher. Hailing from Oldham, Lancashire, he has a brass band background but began exploring jazz as a student at the University of Hull in the late 1970s. Upon graduation he moved to London where his reputation as a trombone player really developed.

   In recent years he has performed with Loose Tubes, Roberto Pla's Latin Ensemble and, in 2016, a week at Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club with the mighty New York Mingus Big Band.

2017 saw a return to Hull to perform his original music at the July Hull Jazz Festival, with a quintet of local jazz musicians.

  As a writer Paul Taylor has toured widely in the UK with his humorous one-man show 'trombone poetry' taking it to pubs, clubs and festivals, also

appearing on various radio programmes.    

   For 'Other Ranks' he has composed the music which is scored for a small brass and wind band, but with the possibility of arranging for an extended ensemble.

Photo:Viceversarobbi Fotografia.


Dave Ellis is a musician, writer and promoter of jazz and experimental musics. He came to Hull in 1972 to study at the School of Art & Design where he was subsequently employed until retirement in 2015.

    In 1982 he launched 'Other Musics,' first as a musicians collective, but later as a promoting venture that was soon incorporated into Hull

Time Based Arts, of which he was a founder member.

   He has collaborated with John Robinson and Paul Taylor on several projects including performances for the Larkin 25 celebrations of 2010, and the Humber Mouth Literature Festivals of 2008 and 2014.

   As a musician he plays many styles in several local jazz groups, and the Bandanarama Street Band.

Photo: Mark Terry



"The narrative is unified and exalted by Robinson's densely allusive free verse which has affinities with...the Bible, Shakespeare, Hopkins, Wilfred Owen, Joyce, Dylan Thomas, Steinbeck, Heaney...There could scarcely be a more urgent and compelling subject or poetry to address."

Dr John Osborne   University of Hull


"Woven into accessible poetry stories, {Robinson's} precise, original, moving and well researched observations are a revelatory tapestry which merits extensive and urgent dissemination."

John Fox   M.B.E., F.R.S.A

"John Robinson's powerful poetry captures real experiences as the ranks marked into WW1's tragic battlefields. The production effectively builds up tensions in the trenches, combining Robinson's acidic commentary...with committed and dramatic delivery from Jim Higo & Mickey Higgins...Loved it!"

Monty Martin   Barton Muse News

"New Orleans funerals, Albert Ayler style wailing jazz, music hall and marching bands. The whole tragedy...sublimely captured in the plaintive sounds and illuminated by them. Simply a brilliant marriage of words and music"

Richard Gammon   Imaginary Gardens

"I took to John Robinson...and his deceptively deadpan approach masking nice extravagances of language. He rattles off the proper nouns in the American fashion but undercuts this with strong, sometimes passionate vernacular and - as you might expect from a rapping trombonist - tough, insistent rhythms."

Michael Curtis   Connections

"Robinson is an easy-going dude, with a political agenda and a lot of Chutzpah"

Tony Grist   New Hope International Review



For booking, media & purchase inquiries, please contact Dave Ellis:

Tel: 01482 875314 | Mobile: 07932 039591

Email: jazzinhull@davenlee.karoo.co.uk

Mailbox: information@otherrankspoetry.com

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