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Hugo Williams is rightly cherished for his inimitable fusion of autobiography and irony, and a technical glide that allows his writing to ‘slip back to the past as effortlessly as a dreamer’ (The Times).
I Knew the Bride is Williams’ eleventh collection of poems, and his first since West End Final was shortlisted for both the T. S. Eliot and Forward prizes for poetry in 2009. This new volume bears – and lays bare – those qualities that have become so characteristic of his work: his unflinching survey of his childhood and adult life alike, alighting on moments of vivacity from his upbringing in a theatrical family in the 1940s and 50s (the title poem a touching tribute to his late sister) through to the romantic peaks and pains of his adult years. Straight-talking, self-deprecating and funny, these recklessly accountable inspections are set against a Williams-esk miscellany of day-to-day backdrops that readers have come to treasure: of record collections, kitchen sinks, shopping bicycles, hotels, bedrooms. But I Knew the Bride is no mere rehearsal of old lives lived; instead it takes the author and his readers into startling new terrain in a series of brave, painful and profoundly moving poems ‘From the Dialysis Ward’, in which the author records his own ongoing hospital treatment with a fearless vulnerability that makes this collection of poems a courageous and inspiring read.
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