Introducing the 8th May 2011 Readers – 1. Tony Williams

Tony Williams grew up in Matlock, Derbyshire and now lives in Sheffield. He has published poems in a range of print and online journals including the TLS, Poetry London, Rialto, The London Magazine, nthposition and Shadow Train. He has carried out research into contemporary pastoral poetry and teaches at the University of Northumbria. The Corner of Arundel Lane and Charles Street (Salt), was one of the most distinctive first collections of 2010.

His video of a poem from it, ‘Homage to Julian Metcalf’, is classic stuff:

And here’s a poem from the book simply written down:


Tenebrio, the fabled Panther, Reynard, local kids,
a dangerous prowler — or just the usual drunk on the skids —
slipping in and out of your names and costumes nightly,
you come around here, rifling bins, screaming your vixen cry,
playing your games, leaving a guano of gum in the bus shelter.
………..The mystery caller that made the dogs bark, the lateness of the hour,
………..the sweet spliff fumes that rise through the air,
………..backlit orange, behind the privet — you’re gone, never were,
………..remain in the bushes as a pair of evil stars,
when some gracious shivering husband stirs
and comes with a torch and pulled-tight dressing gown to see.
Plodding back, he hushes his wife but is awake instantly
when the floodlight’s triggered by your shadow’s tail,
and is taking Nytol when he hears the clatter of disturbed metal.
………..The next day there’s just a smudge of feathers and two
………..twigs lying crossed in the path. Next door’s window
………..has been tampered with: the tracks lead to a high fence and stop.
All those night-time incidents: you move in rumours, stalk and drop,
accost and flash at the elderly and the young
and fade like the Cheshire Cat, leaving a fleshless dong
and a funny turn or tearful scream for mummy.
………..You are a ninja dissembling into the bough of a tree,
………..and now stand huge and awful by the wardrobe shelves,
………..fixed in a rictus of mockery and wrong intent till that too dissolves,
and you depart, drifting across a city of bad sleep and prints on window-sills,
finding sport among its bedroom hells
and day-forsaken alleyways, lurking behind the silence:
………..something and nothing, all the false alarms that diffuse
………..through foolish laughter, all the violence that goes
………..unreported or is shelved for lack of evidence.

(first published in The London Magazine, 2007)

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