Ian Robinson

Editor and publisher of 'Oasis Magazine'
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The Independent Online

Ian Robinson, publisher and editor of Oasis Magazine and Oasis Books, was responsible for running one of those remarkable amateur literary enterprises that have fostered a wide range of writers (especially but not exclusively poets), providing an outlet and a network for all kinds of valuable material. His instincts were inclusive, catholic and eclectic: deeply involved in European culture and committed to translation as a renewing principle, he published the liveliest work he could find and did his best to vary the mix.



Ian Norman Baker Robinson, publisher, teacher, book designer and poet: born Osterley, Middlesex 1 July 1934; married 1959 Heidi Armbruster (one son, one daughter); died London 20 April 2004.



Ian Robinson, publisher and editor of Oasis Magazine and Oasis Books, was responsible for running one of those remarkable amateur literary enterprises that have fostered a wide range of writers (especially but not exclusively poets), providing an outlet and a network for all kinds of valuable material. His instincts were inclusive, catholic and eclectic: deeply involved in European culture and committed to translation as a renewing principle, he published the liveliest work he could find and did his best to vary the mix.

Born in Osterley, Middlesex, in 1934, the son of a civil servant in the Ministry of Supply, Robinson grew up in outer London. After schooling at Colet Court and St Paul's he did his National Service in the RAF as a Russian-language interpreter, and then in 1955 went up to Oriel College, Oxford, to read English.

He spent four years as a teacher at Tulse Hill School, and then became a journalist, working for the National Trade Press weeklies, on the Engineering News and the Medical News. In 1959 he met Heidi Armbruster, who was working in a London hostel for the blind, and they married.

In 1965 Robinson joined the faculty of the Kingston College of Art, where he lectured in Liberal Studies, teaching European literature and art history to students whose work was otherwise practical. He worked through the merger and reorganisation to Kingston Polytechnic, taking early retirement at 57.

Oasis began as a college magazine, a project for students to experience the processes of print production. It was produced with unusual flair, using students on layout and design. There was spare capacity in the printing facility at Kingston and Robinson paid the print shop for some of their downtime, keeping his magazine production costs and selling price as low as possible, and producing a series of books alongside the magazine.

He used his contacts, including those met at poetry-society events, to get contributions from progressive writers who had some reputation, and he enlisted their help to seek out new material - consistently fostering translation of poetry and short stories. The writers he published included John Ash, David Chaloner, Jean Demélier, Peter Dent, Ken Edwards, Roy Fisher, John Freeman, Robin Fulton, Harry Guest, Charles Hadfield, Alan Halsey, Lee Harwood, Michael Heller, Christopher Middleton, Geraldine Monk, Andrea Moorhead, Frances Presley, Elaine Randell, Peter Riley, Robert Sheppard, Harriet Tarlo, John Welch and John Wilkinson.

Robinson was an unusually restless character in every sense, but a generous editor, publisher and friend with a long memory and endless fund of funny and weird stories. He revised the design of his magazine continuously throughout its publication from 1969 until 2004: there were six separate series with radically different designs and over 100 issues. He learnt to operate an offset litho machine, and investigated every possible form of producing books from mimeo to silkscreen, from tiny stitched pamphlets to large-format artist books.

His efforts as a publisher and promoter of writers overshadowed his own dozen or so books and pamphlets of fiction and poetry including The Invention of Morning (1997) and a collection of graphics, The Glacier in the Cupboard (1995).

Tony Lopez

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