Faber & faber £9.99 (57pp) (free p&p) from the Independent Bookshop : 08430 600 030
West End Final, By Hugo Williams
Friday 23 October 2009
That wicked trickster Hugo Williams queers his reviewer's pitch in "West End Twilight". The poem insolently mocks every cliché about his quasi-autobiographical verse and its habitual use of his matinée-idol actor father, Hugh: "as the lives of father and son/ loom clear, perception of the past is altered..." etcetera.
Unbowed, this critic shoots back that Williams's tragi-comic family romance has never sounded deeper or subtler notes than it does in this play-list of a life through 38 poems, long and short, tart and tender.
From the childhood excitement of "Peach" to the last-ditch defences of "Washing my Hands" ("the dam seems to be holding"), poems rhyme with another, chat and spar.
Long sequences shine: the slow-mo erotica of "A Pillow Book"; the bittersweet Cole Porter-esque elegies of "Poems to my Mother". In his spotlight we see all time's dust and debris, but the showman still casts a spell.
And why are 'southern' ways of speaking spreading north?
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