Donations are essential to keep Write Out Loud going    

'Rowing' by Neil Robertson is Write Out Loud's Poem of the Week

entry picture

The new Write Out Loud poem of the Week is ‘Rowing’ by Neil Robertson, a poem about a relationship that has developed from schoolboy rivalry into teamwork in adulthood: " ‘You're doing well fella, keep it going’ / ‘Ok you take a breather for a sec’.” Neil Robertson says he values poetry “as a means of transcending the everyday”. His favourite poem is Song of Myself by Walt Whitman. He also admires Seamus Heaney, Robert Frost and Paul Farley.


What got you into writing poetry?

Since an early age I'd always enjoyed creative writing in some capacity. However, it wasn't until I studied English literature at college and then more extensively at nniversity that I realised the true value of poetry as a means of transcending the everyday. So essentially, what got me more and more into poetry was a much greater exposure to it. It's a very therapeutic exercise telling your story through poetry and an equally fulfilling experience to get a second-hand glimpse into the worlds of others.


How long have you been writing?

I have actually only properly been writing poetry for a few months. I had written other pieces here and there over the last few years but nothing like the kind of material I'm producing now. I've always been taken to another world when I write poems and I figured I may as well make use of the English degree I spent thousands of pounds on, so here I am!


Do you go to any open-mic nights?

No, but I intend to go to one very soon as the idea intrigues me greatly.


What’s your favourite poet/poem?

My favourite poem is Song of Myself by Walt Whitman and as for my favourite poet, it's a toss-up between Seamus Heaney, Robert Frost and Paul Farley - I like different aspects of their work.


You're cast away on a desert island. What's your luxury?

An anthology of transcendental American poetry, a notebook to write some poetry, some cans of craft beer and my girlfriend (she'll thank me for that one, though maybe not for appearing last in the order!).



by Neil Robertson


The connotations were different 

Back then - the days of SEGA Rally

On the PC. I got a right ear full

When I crashed at a bend and threw a strop

What came back makes me wince even now.

The documented exchange saw you sent

To the headteachers office for your sins.

The rally games eventually stopped,

The bickering dragged on a while longer.

My slipping grades; staying out too late;

No football channels in foreign hotels;

All brought out the worst in us.

In the blink of an eye, here we are

Reaping the benefits of our mistakes

I, almost ready to father offspring

You, not quite at the twilight phase, but close.

Once again we are at the centre of 

A showcase, not of rivalry but

Teamwork, understanding - left, right, left, right

"You're doing well fella, keep it going"

"Ok you take a breather for a sec"

Waves have receded - the water, perfectly still

Rowing, but not as we know it

Gently down the stream - this is but a dream.





◄ Hollie McNish's poetic memoir about motherhood wins Ted Hughes award

Write Out Loud at Stockport art gallery tonight ►

Please consider supporting us

Donations from our supporters are essential to keep Write Out Loud going


Profile image

steve pottinger

Wed 12th Apr 2017 09:27

A lovely poem, Neil.

Profile image

Paul Waring

Mon 10th Apr 2017 19:54

Neil, well done, your excellent poem is a worthy choice for POTW. I missed this last week but, thankfully, not our eagle-eyed WOL team who singled this out. I particularly like how you seamlessly shifted from your history to the present with the brilliant rowing scenario.



Profile image

Neil Robertson

Mon 10th Apr 2017 13:02

Thanks for the feedback Colin! Much appreciated. I think the point you make about the father-son dynamic, particularly during adolesence, is reflected mid-way through 'Rowing' and hopefully the aftermath of this period in your life is similar to the one described at the end of my poem.



<Deleted User> (13762)

Mon 10th Apr 2017 09:48

Congratulations on POTW Neil. I missed this the first time round so it was good to get a second chance at reading.

I particularly liked the lines 'In the blink of an eye, here we are / Reaping the benefits of our mistakes". Makes one think back. And now as a father of teenage boys turning to men in their own rights I am hoping they don't lose the chances that life offers them - through distractions, motivation, self-control - like perhaps I did. But hey, I don't do regrets - I just keep on rowing even if some days it doesn't feel like I'm making much headway.


If you wish to post a comment you must login.

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

Find out more Hide this message