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In Memory of a Banyan Tree: Poems of the Outside World: 1985 to 2022
Three Wooden Trunks
The Country Where Everyone’s Name Is Fear: Selected Poems
Amnesty Muse  
  Doren Robbins

ISBN 978-0-9844510-7-4     $18  /  $21 (Canada)     5.5 x 8.5       

104 pp      
PUB DATE: Spring 2011       Poetry


A poet examines his life: what he’s been dealt, what he’s chosen, the workings of history with personal griefs and delights, “amnesty” of an uneasy coming-to-terms with self and others, being his muse. There’s a macabre wit, masculine vulnerability, and soul-conflict in the best of these poems, adding up to a very strong book.

—Adrienne Rich


There is a boldness and a directness in Doren Robbins’ poetry. He is able to transform our common language into poetry like very few others. I speak of language but it has to do with a life, a life of attention, graciousness, bitterness, and generosity. When his father whistles “Honeysuckle Rose,” when the “arm of great hair” holds the boy up, I am back with Villon. When Eddie Cantor lifts his eyelids back like a flea before he drinks, I am with Chaucer. When he rails against The Bastards, I feel completely at home.

—Gerald Stern


No one writes like Doren Robbins. From fantastic raging rants on the butchery we endure to tender, erotic, profound meditations on love, Robbins once again shows himself to be one of America’s most original, brilliant, passionately evolved poets. His genius, his breathtaking storms of language in pursuit of what it is to be alive, to define our essence, our passion to exist despite everything—“you won’t figure out the hate.” These are amazing poems, where they start, where they go, where they end up. Teeming, “buzzing” life: the suffering, the ironic, the bitterness and disgust, the sexiest parts, the humor, the philosophical, the political, and his beautiful maleness (“Man with Miscarriages”!). Amnesty Muse is in “the Whitman tradition of the authentic voice,” but also of the surrealism rooted in the human soul, our history and destiny.

—Sharon Doubiago,
author of Love on The Streets, Selected and New Poems & My Father’s Love, Volumes 1 and 2

About the Author

Doren Robbins

DOREN ROBBINS’S poems, prose poems, and short fictions have appeared in American Poetry Review, Caliban, Cimarron Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Hotel Amerika, Indiana Review, Kayak, New Letters, North Dakota Quarterly, Poetry International, Sulphur, and many other periodicals. His recent collections of poetry, Driving Face Down (winner of the Blue Lynx Poetry Award 2001) and My Piece of the Puzzle (awarded the 2008 PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Poetry Award) are published by Lynx House Press and Eastern Washington University Press. Robbins is also the author of an experimental fiction collection, Parking Lot Mood Swing: Autobiographical Monologues and Prose Poetry (Cedar Hill Press 2004). After twenty years traveling, working mostly as a broiler chef and a carpenter, he became a teacher of English and Creative Writing. He teaches at Foothill College.


I need to know the name of that bird
and find out who it is making
such music I never heard before.
I’d have a start if I could see
a wing or a tail or something
but it stays hidden away
in the crowded oak leaves,
a stone with a pit wrapped inside
of it, a lifted voice inside the pit,
a made-up world. I come back
from the window, partly awake,
the bird still going, my wife’s heel
resting against my shin, the bird’s
voice out there singing to me about
the birth canal she let me feed from,
the breathing gill she held me inside of.

© Doren Robbins