About Freaked

“Allusive, clever, and craft-wise, written from a ‘wonky perspective,’ Liz Robbins’ poems startle with their clarity and intimation, with their ability to observe what’s ‘holy and aflame’ through a darker knowledge: ‘I think I may disappear / a woman holds this fear.’ A crown of sonnets deepens into the photographs of Diane Arbus, who understood, as Robbins does, how the quotidian and grotesque intersect. Freaked is a cabinet of curiosities, full of revelations and wonders.” — Michael Waters

“It is almost impossible to write briefly about Liz Robbins’ new collection of poems. It is such a marvelous book that one wants to go on and on. The poems here are not only authentic products of a deft artist but also the exposed writing of an electric psyche. The book is a consummate whole, filled with characters, lives, situations, and verbal acumen that is both pyrotechnic and pellucid. Tremble and shimmy to staccato rhythms, and just when you think you have this poet cornered, you plunge into a lake of dazzling, perfect sonnets that deflect their exquisite grace—but not quite. Then keep going. You can’t stop. Freaked is terrific.” — Frank X. Gaspar

“Where there are freaks, there are families. There are circles of inclusion, lines to memorize, t’s to cross, and the freak, as outsider, must be inside just enough to give voice to the something missing, new, or needed, something lost beyond acknowledgement of loss. Liz Robbins’ bravely realized third book is just such a voice and yes, a little freakish, oddly shaped in places, rebellious yet self-questioning, funny-weird and funny-ha-ha, fierce and yet deftly reticent with its heartbreak, its authenticated rendering of what it is to feel both inside and outside the normative circle. Here we find a girl abandoned who, over time, cultivates abandon into first a lifestyle and then, by secular grace, an art.” — Bruce Bond, contest judge

About Play Button

“I thoroughly enjoyed her unpredictable eye and voice, the playful but always on-point innovations in structure, and the relentless lyricism throughout.” — Patricia Smith, contest judge

“Liz Robbins’ poems are smart, savvy, dangerous, and as bold as the big hoop earrings her characters are fond of wearing. Robbins does not shy away from the provocative or mischievously formal. By turns elegiac and political, poppy and poignant, Play Button reconciles the good girl with the bad girl in us all.” — Denise Duhamel

“Liz Robbins’ Play Button never pauses, never flinches, never stops. Layers of meaning erupt from that title, and every poem in this tight, power-packed collection. Fresh, daring, and razor-sharp, these poems don’t mess around.” — Jim Daniels

About Hope, As the World is a Scorpion Fish

“Liz Robbins’ poems have what only the very best poems have: a sturdy toughness undergirding their tenderness. Though the body spins dervishly—almost blindly—for love and beauty, it must also accept jolts of pain, of physical labor. As with the flowering pear trees in ‘On the Verge of Spring,’ we are ever ‘hopeful,/ hopeless—with [their] smell of sweat suggestive/ of work and of fear.’ There’s a refreshing honesty in these poems as well as a tremendous amount of skill with a sensuous, musical language. Each poem is a delight, something to savor.” — Nance Van Winckel

“These poems explore with unflinching courage the human need for love and meaning. They are born out of that mysterious and painful tension between the hopeful heart and the world it must confront. This is a fine debut for a strong new voice.” — David Bottoms

“In her debut collection, Hope, As the World Is a Scorpion Fish, Liz Robbins exhibits both versatility and formal dexterity. With poems that have the clarity of language one might find in Louise Glück, the edgy skepticism of Ruth Stone and the formal ease of Molly Peacock. Robbins’ work teases out and complicates our notions of what it is to be human. Poems like ‘Portrait of Joe’ and ‘Mosaic of Arshile Gorky’ startle with their power and arresting imagery; others, such as the villanelle ‘Two Coins,’ articulate the profound wisdom of a seasoned mind. This book delights with its stunning metaphors (‘the white skin of her throat like cold air’) and its cynical but hopeful explorations of love.” — Beth Gylys