Hugo Williams

Hugo Williams’s most recent collection is Lines Off.

Poem: ‘A Brief Exchange’

Hugo Williams, 16 November 2023

The self-appointed guardian of our streetstands all day in the doorwayof the house opposite,glaring at everyone who passes.

His job is making sure the sun never shineson his side of Raleigh Street.He holds out his hand for rainand storm clouds gather to his cause.

I spoke to him onceabout some misdirected mail I’d received,saying my own mail sometimes went astrayto nearby Raleigh Mews.


Poem: ‘i.m. The West Pier (1866-2003)’

Hugo Williams, 23 September 2021

Piers are stepping-stonesout of this world, a line of poetryflung out to sea on a whim,a dazzle of sea lightsglimpsed between floorboards.

For 50p you can study eternitythrough a telescopeand never have to go there,only promenade to nowhere and backin an atmosphere of ice cream

We used to take the speedboat ridebetween the two piers,pulling the canvas up to our chinswhen the spray flew in our...

Poem: ‘A Bed of Nails’

Hugo Williams, 4 April 2019

Days move diagonally across town, meet other days travelling in the opposite direction. Let off the leash, I was roaming the streets after dark, looking for a thread among neon petals splashing in gutters,

when the screech of brakes heralded my destruction. How kind of someone, I thought, to consider de-accelerating on my behalf, no matter that the gesture came too late to save my life. The...

Poem: ‘Tara Browne (1945-66)’

Hugo Williams, 8 November 2018

I read the news today, oh boy, About a lucky man who made the grade.

The Beatles, ‘A Day in the Life’

If you’d apologised just once for green shirts and amethyst cuff-links you might have survived, but who would have believed that Irish-ironical ‘Sorrry, sorrry’ as you fell about laughing? You were only fifteen when we followed you across Paris after midnight,...

Poem: ‘TV Times’

Hugo Williams, 29 June 2017

The gradual disappearance of one familiar face after another, to Manchester, or Ibiza, or the ominous-sounding ‘New Zealand’, fills the screen with ghosts, who seem to exist in happier times.

The reason for their absence, on holiday, or honeymoon, or merely ‘steering clear of the Filth’ in Southend or the Algarve, seems fair enough at the time and the story carries...

Imbalance: The Charm of Hugo Williams

Michael Hofmann, 22 May 2003

It is a curious thing that of the three judges offering superlatives on the jacket of Hugo Williams’s Collected Poems – Edna Longley, Douglas Dunn and Peter Porter – none is...

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Sperm’s-Eye View

Robert Crawford, 23 February 1995

The family, stuff of novelists as different as Rose Macaulay and James Joyce, Virginia Woolf and Lewis Grassic Gibbon, is absent from much great poetry of the early 20th century. T.S....

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Blake Morrison, 21 February 1991

How much do love and sex have in common? Not enough, it seems, for them to appear together in anthologies, which increasingly cater either for the sentimental or the pornographic market. We need...

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Received Accents

Peter Robinson, 20 February 1986

Charles Tomlinson has a poem called ‘Class’ about the Midland pronunciation of the first letter of the alphabet. In the last chapter of Some Americans, the poet tells how for a short...

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An American Romance

Edward Mendelson, 18 February 1982

Old Glory – the book written by Jonathan Raban – is an altogether different book from the Old Glory that was praised in the reviews, but it is no less wonderful for that. The book the...

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A Martian School of two or more

James Fenton, 6 December 1979

Craig Raine’s second collection follows swiftly upon his first, The Onion, Memory (1978). It is as if the poet had been waiting impatiently over us, while we picked ourselves up off the...

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