Friday, 22 April 2016

Phil Brown on Hugo Williams

Over at Rogue Strands, Matthew Stewart has posted about Phil Brown's excellent Huffington Post feature on Hugo Williams, a poet whose work I've always enjoyed.

It rang quite a few bells with me. Years ago, 2004 I think, I went to hear him read in the theatre at Uppingham School. It was a weekday evening in late autumn, and I think I was the only person there who wasn't actually a pupil at the school. I'm not sure if the kids there had been dragooned into attending by their teachers, but they were an enthusiastic, appreciative and large audience.

After he'd read, I had a few words with him in the bar, and he very kindly offered to take a look at some of my work (I didn't ask him to, honestly). A few weeks later, I received a charming handwritten letter, in which rather as Phil describes, he pointed out why the poems really weren't very good. He was right and the advice he offered with a view to improving them was taken on board. But he also, by way of illustrating some of his points, enclosed a handwritten copy of his own poem Memory Dogs. At the time, I assumed it was a poem that he'd discarded previously, but it subsequently appeared in his collection Dear Room. I'm glad to hear that his health has improved, and that he's writing again.

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