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"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 for 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 marched 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

Hull Jazz Festival director David Porter writes: "We promoted Other Ranks as the opening show of the Hull Jazz Festival 26th winter edition at Hull Truck Studio Theatre on Wednesday 14 November 2018. This was almost 100 years to the day of the Armistice and, as such, held a poignant place in our programme of events and attracted a full house.

"Other Ranks took the form of an animated performance of John Robinson's epic poem which was illustrated by composer Paul Taylor's atmospheric score. The piece was based loosely on the experience of the Hull Pals Battalion of WW1, although the scale of ambition embraced a wider evocation of the horrors and reality of this most dreadful of all wars and touchingly reflected the naivety and camaraderie of the citizen soldier.

It was a touching and expertly crafted piece of work.

"Paul Taylor's score was outstanding, drawing inspiration from the brass band tradition but also evoking strains of New Orleans funeral march, music hall and military marching band - even free form jazz in all its wailing glory.

It was an enthralling show - the musicians in particular rose to the occasion superbly and the 3 voices delivered Robinson's words with the right degree of wit, solemnity and gravitas. The audience were attentive and gripped to the story unfurling.

"This was the third performance of the piece and there seemed to be a confidence, particularly amongst the musicians in delivery of what was quite a complex piece of work. The setting was simple but effective and entirely suitable to the presentation in the Hull Truck Studio. There could have been more work to the visual display that accompanied the piece...but the over-riding quality of the poetry, the musical score and the musicians' performance - plus the honesty of the overall piece - made this a first class contribution to the Jazz festival"

David Porter FRSA
Creative Arts Promotion, J-Night Ltd, Hull Jazz Festival.


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