Robin Richardson’s ‘Sit How You Want’ Stands up for all that is Human

In today’s polarizing political climate, it can be difficult to find a voice that is both self-assured and socially-aware without coming across as pushy.

In her third collection of poetry, Sit How You Want, Toronto-based poet Robin Richardson tackles bad dates, relationships, and the daily struggles of the human heart with the conversational tone of a wine and sushi date.

In almost sixty award-winning and widely-published poems, Richardson writes with a prosody that is both accessible and completely immersive.

In the poem “And No, We Don’t Go Easy” Richardson describes the subtle battles that rage day in and day out between the lonely hearts of the world.  “I get blue/Dress for battle with your shadow/sleek as a machete in my desert dress/and cinder-tinted bob. I’m biding time./You’re saving face. The wars/are so damn civilized these days.”

With language that seems at first glance to contain all the bamboozling cadences of modern poetry, Richardson shifts seamlessly from Art House obscurity to the pure, clean, conversational tones of a porchlight conversation with a fluidity that seems self-guided.

With the surprising emotional insight of Rupi Kaur and the vividity of Andrea Gibson, Richardson invites the reader into the stories of her life and the lives of those around her, hammering home the universal truths that bind us all together. “You give your all/until you’re all used up and then/you get to say at least that you survived.”

As part of Quebec-based Vehicule Press’ 45th anniversary, Richardson’s latest collection stands as a paean to the inner mind. Beginning the poem entitled “At This Stage of the Journey Our Hero Pauses to Consider a Difficult but Necessary Course of Action,” Richardson paints the setting with “We were crotch deep in a Himalayan snowdrift/when it occurred to me to kill him,” before drifting quickly into references to both Lolita and The Cremation of Sam Mcgee. Effortlessly blending Canadian ballad with European high fiction, Richardson underlines the universality of the deep and troubling waters of the human psyche with poetry that is both of us and better than us.

For any readers out there wondering if they’ve got the right mind for poetry, wonder no longer. As Richardson puts it in the poem “Eventuality,” “We’re no better than the rest.”