Poet of the Month: Roger Robinson on The Butterfly Hotel

Apples and Snakes’ Poet of the Month Roger Robinson tells us about the inspiration and origins of his latest collection ‘The Butterfly Hotel’.

DSCF7403I can’t mark the moment when I felt liked I lived in England, and I can’t mark the moment I felt I no longer belonged in Trinidad. Perhaps this is how a butterfly must feel as it criss-crosses the Atlantic.

I had just started travelling around the world on tour with my band King Midas Sound. Spending time in different countries each night – often where little English is spoken – brought me to ongoing thoughts about migration, immigration and thoughts about home. I didn’t know how to write that feeling but I did know the feeling. Twenty-five years later I still carry its remnants around like luggage. Furthermore, I had few examples of poetry that illustrated my specific migration experience. How does one narrate the unspeakable melancholy of an immigrants experience – often leaving everyone and everything they love and know behind?

The butterflies in the book are an artifice of sorts. The poems seemed to be seeking an allegory of sorts to mediate the poems. The butterflies began to evoke ideas of utopia, migration, physical and spiritual rebirth, a dual sense of home, tenacity, adaptation, and survival. In doing so they also reflect on the idea of migration, alienation, memory, community and home.

As the poems for the book evolved I wanted to have a bigger conversation about migration: good and bad, modern and historical. To make this experience more epic and to elevate it to the level of fable. I started to approach how immigration has affected my own history in poems like The Irishman.

Roger will be headlining this month’s Jawdance at Rich Mix on Wednesday 25 September. Find out more about Roger at rogerrobinsononline.com.