Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Hugo Williams Interview

There's currently a superb interview with Hugo Williams up at Horizon Review. As an admirer, I've chased down numerous interviews with him, but I firmly believe this stands out above the rest. Phil Brown did his homework, then managed to draw far more out of Williams than is usually the case.

Perhaps the key quote I'd like to highlight is the one that Brown astutely chose to give the interview its title:

"I’m referring to the rich adjectives and the exciting similes that ‘only poets could think of’...people like a few fireworks. I prefer the fireworks to be invisible."

This is obviously something of a posture, bearing in mind that Williams himself even drops a couple of metaphors into the interview, never mind his own poetry. However, I do feel this statement is valid as a challenge of many accepted ways of thinking in contemporary U.K. poetry. It's useful as a point of comparison with many of the poems that Horizon features. By this remark, I don't mean to knock other excellent poets, rather to provoke debate just as Williams does.

I believe he isn't taken seriously enough as a figure at the centre of the U.K. poetry world. Too often dismissed as a posh one-off or as an anecdotal poet of the superficial, his poetry and prose are pushed to the periphery. In fact, Hugo Williams is crucial to our understanding of where we've come from and are heading in poetic terms.

1 comment:

  1. I can't agree with your last comment, I'm afraid. Or don't wish to, at any rate. But I'm very glad to see you flagging up that excellent interview with HW. I've just reviewed his book for Poetry Review myself, so it's on my mind at the moment.

    Good poetry is always hard to come by, alas, whether you're the editor at Faber or running an irregular photocopied sheet for your local poetry society. Magazine editors publish the best of what they get, according to their own criteria for what is 'best' - a fraught topic on any day - and hope to build an understanding among submitting poets of what is favoured through the kind of work under review, how it is reviewed, and also the kind of poetry being published. Building that understanding is what I'm trying to do at Horizon, poem by poem.