Information about the poet.
Dear Room is a worthy successor to Billy’s Rain (1999), whose preoccupations and occasions it continues and ramifies, charting the “angles, signals, orders, murmurs, sighs” of love, separation and loss. With grave good humour, ruefully exact timing and a scruple reminiscent of Thomas Hardy, these poems register the goodbye look of things, and ponder the difference between a good memory and an inability to forget. By turns candid, caustic and drastically self-accusing, the many tenses and afterlives of desire are parsed—in sawn-off monologues, short stories in verse, thumbnail dramas, splintery photographs. In poem after poem Hugo Williams joins a sense of things missed and missing to a redemptive act of imaginative capture, and Dear Room uncovers an ethics of the present, reminding us in the words of Philip Larkin that “days are where we live”.
The fifty poems in Billy’s Rain chart the course of a love affair, now ended. Its complications, obsessions, evasions, secret joys and emotional pitfalls are explored with all the subtlety and irony of which Hugo Williams, among contemporary poets, is the acknowledged master. These are brilliant, wry and moving elegies for a love affair.
Hugo Williams’ new collection summons the poet’s past selves in order of appearance, as in an autobiography, showing in poems as clear as rock pools that the plain truth is only as plain as the props and make-up needed to stage it. Childhood and school time offer up the amateur theatricals of themselves, in poems of vertiginous retrospect; other poems itemize the professional selves of the poet’s actor-father Hugh Williams (by now as familiar and frequently depicted as Cezanne’s mountain), while the narrator—‘waiting to step into my father’s shoes as myself’—teases out the paradoxes of identity and inheritance. After this searching portraiture of the poet’s parents, the chronology opens onto the broad secular thoroughfares of adulthood, including a limpid arrangement of pillow poems which tell the same erotic bedtime story in twelve different ways. Other poems strike out decisively along roads not taken: meticulous misremembering, sinister and fecklessly unfinished narratives about the parallel…[more]