Shock Lessons, a Paddock Scripture

Taken from Mad Songs

exploring the farm as a child I would part the tall grasses, 
moving through the dirt beneath the thick rushes.
consisting mainly of overgrown clover and clusters of foliage, 
I'd map the distance that made up our property. it seemed endless,
that innocent drive to run further beneath the ceiling of leaves, 
expanses of earth shifting beneath a child's slight weight.
I would imagine how far the landscape stretched.
one afternoon when my parents were at the races
I followed the pasture floor to the fenceline at the back of the property. 
wanting to go further, I hovered a blade of grass over the ticking wire
as I had watched Dad do so many times, to test if it was safe to cross.
feeling nothing, I wrapped my hands around one of the copper threads-
struck by that first surge through the body, electricity 
running like a vein of blood beneath the skin
as though a voice screamed through a haze, blinding my eyes
and rattling my mind with panic.
no longer wishing to know more, to understand,
I stood startled at the trapped earth and wires 
that had run a painful electric current through my body.
it would have been foolish to even attempt climbing 
over into the neighbouring paddock.
all I could do then was give up.
Read another


Robbie Coburn is an Australian poet. He was born in June 1994 in Melbourne and grew up on his family’s farm in the semi-rural locality of Woodstock, Victoria.

Since his first professional publication at the age of 17, his work has appeared in many Australian and overseas publications such as Poetry, Overland, Westerly, Cordite Poetry Review and Going Down Swinging, and his poems have been anthologised.

He has published a poetry collection, Rain Season (Picaro), a handful of chapbooks and pamphlets.

His work is known for its deeply personal and sometimes confronting nature, and for its often harrowing depictions of farm life in country Victoria.

Les Wicks has commented on both of these characteristics, stating that “[his] ruthless eviscerated honesty and clarity scar the eye” and calling him “the best portraitist of Australian rural life since Brendan Ryan”.

Robert Adamson has noted that his poems “are created with a muscular craft that glows with alert intelligence” and that they “create an inner life that draws in the reader” which “shimmers with light as much as it burns with ferocity.”

He currently resides in Melbourne.


  • Journals / Magazines / Newspapers / Periodicals / Websites
  • The Age (forthcoming), Bareknuckle Poet, Bluepepper, Cordite Poetry Review, ETZ, foam:e, Going Down Swinging, Mascara Literary Review, Overland Literary Journal, Oz-Burp, Mascara Literary Review, POAM (Melbourne Poets Union Newsletter), Poetry, Polartis, Project 365+1, Regime Magazine of New Writing, Uneven Floor, Unusual Work, Verity La, Voiceworks, Westerly, The Wonder Book of Poetry, Writ Poetry Review.
  • Works as editor
  • Forgetting is So Long: An Anthology of Australian Love Poetry, with valli poole (Blank Rune Press, 2016)
  • Exhibitions / Art Project / Collections
  • Sights to Be Seen: Personal Art in Public Places (Commissioned by The City of Whittlesea, curated by Sandy Caldow)
  • Eppicentric: Rereading the Signs (Commissioned by The City of Whittlesea, curated by Sandy Caldow)
  • The Cultural Collection (Work purchased by City of Whittlesea for permanent collection)
  • Non-Fiction / Essays / Research / Reviews / Criticism / Interviews
  • Aurealis, foam:e, Give It Mouth, Going Down Swinging, Mascara Literary Review, Overland “Emerging Poet Series”, Plumwood Mountain, Rochford Street Review, Writ Poetry Review.
  • Selected Festivals / Readings
  • “The Next Big Thing” series at The Wheelers Centre March 2014 - Feature writer
  • La Mama Poetica August 2015 - Feature Poet
  • Perth Poetry Festival 2016 - Guest Poet
  • Wollongong Writers Festival2016 - Guest Poet
  • Radio Appearances / Podcasts
  • 3CR Spoken Word, 6EBA FM (WA), The Australian Poetry Podcast, Poetry Says, Verity La Podcast.


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  • Rain Season
  • Release Date
  • Publisher
    Picaro Press
  • Artwork by
    Sandy Caldow
  • Format
  • Buy
    Purchase Rain Season
  • Reviews
    Rochford Street Review
  • “Stay tuned! Nothing prepares you for the shock of a new voice in poetry, and nothing quenches that thirst better than a good dose of poetry. A poetry of place and sensibility can light up a whole landscape, and the poetry of Robbie Coburn does just that. In these poems we see him now in the very act of etching out the details, so hold on, and read on through.”


Chapbooks and Pamphlets

Scar to ScarThe SilencesMad Songs5 PoemsBefore Bone and VisceraHuman Batteries



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