Reviewed in Hastings Independent:
The Barbed & the Beautiful is a poetry and art collaboration with highly acclaimed Dutch underground painter and mixed media artist Marcel Herms, who has worked with many writers, poets, alternative bands and small publishers from all over the world. Partly funded by an arts grant from the municipality east of Amsterdam where Herms lives and works, it is a beautifully presented hand-stitched high paper quality chapbook. There are ten Robinson poems and twelve colourful and vibrant artworks, including front and back cover, from Herms. This artist has a unique style that is both beautiful and grotesque at the same time, using strong repetitive images and themes to deliver surreal and dreamlike paintings.
Robinson’s poems in this work are shorter, more intimate and more intense, and Herms’ stark but irresistible artworks provide a perfect complement to them. The themes here are once again typical of this poet: sex and love, drunken male posturing, addiction and its consequences, and the lives of the desperate. There is even a little politics and philosophy thrown in. And all this without judgement, as seen in this extract from flesh & drugs:
‘she took my jewelry, emptied my bank account: if she would have asked for help, it would have been offered: you know her, she’s a sweet girl’
If you like this kind of ‘straight down the line’ poetry combined with impressive illustrations in a book that is not only visually stunning but feels good to the touch, then The Barbed & the Beautiful is for you.