West End Final, By Hugo Williams

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The Independent Culture

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.