This Oxford Poets selection of poems was compiled by the poet and includes work from the five individual volumes published over the first 20 years of his career in print - "Symptoms of Loss", his first full-length collection published when he was 23, "Sugar Daddy", "Some Sweet Day", "Love-Life" and "Writing Home". Oxford University Press was still then civilized enough to have its own stable of contemporary poets, and Hugo Williams belonged to a constellation of major talents that then found a home under its roof. In 1998 'wiser' counsels prevailed, and poetry was booted out of Amen House for good. Carcanet rescued some, but Williams went to Faber.
He has also worked as a television critic, and as poetry editor of the "New Statesman". He is a true original: his insouciantly bittersweet autobiographical poetry is full of the art which hides art, and he is a master of that urbanity of tone which one associates with a privileged background, but which, in his hands, reveals darker and more disturbing depths beneath its surface glitter. There is also a mysterious rightness of form about even the shortest poems. His verse is 'free' in the best sense, in that there's not a poem here that doesn't look, on closer inspection and perhaps only to the more discerning reader, as if it's been carefully crafted and drafted to the nth degree. Inevitably some of the poems included here are slighter than others, but all are worth a second read, and many can be re-read endlessly without becoming boring.