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The Corner of Arundel Lane and Charles Street (Salt Modern Poets S.) [Hardcover]

Tony Williams
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
Price: 12.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

15 Oct 2009 Salt Modern Poets S.
LONGLISTED FOR THE PORTICO PRIZE. Potter down to The Corner of Arundel Lane and Charles Street and find a strange landscape opening up before you: the city's dishevelled edge of huts and fallen fences slides towards a sullen and uncanny countryside.

Elegant, intelligent, charming and accessible, these poems reinvent the pastoral for dark times. They peddle dreams and nightmares, hollow laughter, elegy and joy, and use a spectrum of forms and tones from the prosaic to the metrical, from wry cynicism to high rhetoric.

Meet botanists, bastards, predators and prayers, the feckless and the dead, a lecherous Polish priest and Prospero as a game old bird, cigar in hand, mourning the proliferation of oiks like you. Pop in for a drink at the pub of the rural damned, dodge deranged farmers and deluded incomers, and make for the county town with its closed cinema and publicly-owned Scotch eggs. Find an eyeball in a wooden box. Discover the moral character of sand and gravel, play a quick hand of piquet and lie awake all night listening to the Dark shagging in the garden of a city terrace.

The poems in The Corner of Arundel Lane and Charles Street are original and allusive, serious and funny. Their wit and charm plot new routes through familiar landscapes.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 80 pages
  • Publisher: Salt Publishing (15 Oct 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844715175
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844715176
  • Product Dimensions: 22 x 14.4 x 1.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,429,690 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

Tony Williams grew up in Matlock, Derbyshire and now lives in Sheffield. His first poetry collection The Corner of Arundel Lane and Charles Street was published by Salt in 2009. 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 also works in video. He has carried out research into contemporary pastoral poetry, works as a freelance graphic designer and teaches at the Open University, Sheffield Hallam University and the University of Salford.



Product Description

Review

With virtuosity and brio, the poems blend the English lyric tradition with the styles of European and, in particular, German writers from Goethe to Gottfried Benn, developing a decorative yet tightly metered free verse as capable of witty evocation of complicated landscapes as of subtle, plainspoken pathos. Williams often uncovers precise metaphors too: in “Great Edwardian”, a snapshot of imperialistic arrogance, an English gentleman is brilliantly transformed: “a cockpheasant on the steaming muckheap: / Prospero admiring all”. But while it provides a means of unearthing what one of the dustjacket blurbs calls “intimate and unblinking truths”, the drawback to all this blazing wit is that it can begin to feel a little false. “This poem is to celebrate the large buildings / gravel makes possible”: Williams’s occasionally glib approach may find significance in the insignificant, but not much. Yet in a collection of such scope, ambition and originality, these sorts of failings are admirably few. The hard-won Frostian ease of “The Fence”; the moving, epigrammatic “For My Brother”; the magnificent survey of “Reproductive Behaviour of the Dark”: Tony Williams is a poet of enviably varied talents, and The Corner of Arundel Lane and Charles Street is an inventive, incisive first book. (Ben Wilkinson Times Literary Supplement)

Williams is ever alert to the wildness and decay that are waiting to rush back in and reclaim what is rightfully theirs, as in the excellent title poem, which ends with a vision of "Nowhere breaking loose". For middle-class paranoids in search of what Frost called "a momentary stay against confusion", this is terrifying. But alongside that something-in-the-woodshed feeling comes a strange contentment. Compared to a politicised mansion house, the humble garden shed is a place of safety, a retreat from the demands of the all-singing, all-dancing world, where gentle, amateur pursuits such as knocking together a table or brewing your own beer happily serve no purpose. Williams is giving us a glimpse of a different kind of Prospero, on a different kind of island. As "In Praise of Tinkering" puts it, "true alchemy's the will to make / a stilled self and a plume of smoke". Likewise, from all our cultural loam and junk, Williams has made real magic. (Frances Leviston The Guardian)

Williams is also an original, placing the city and landscapes of Sheffield and Derbyshire at the centre of a universe where mundane observation crosses into the visionary, generating a strange blend of dry, scabrous humour and awed love of place. The Marvellian title poem is stunning. To read Williams’s work with the best of the others here is to be convinced afresh that this is an exciting time for poetry. (Sean O’Brien Poetry Review)

With virtuosity and brio, the poems blend the English lyric tradition with the styles of European and, in particular, German writers from Goethe to Gottfried Benn, developing a decorative yet tightly metered free verse as capable of witty evocation of complicated landscapes as of subtle, plainspoken pathos. (Ben Wilkinson Times Literary Supplement)

By layering cultural references and registers like sediment, a deep, imaginative landscape appears, industrial and feudal, suburban and gone to seed, where doggers and spliffs and curates and cribbage-games meet. (Frances Leviston The Guardian)

Review

These poems marry a range of technical skills with powerful imagination and wit. They are powerfully evocative of people and places and, in turn, both playful and moving. Tony Williams can combine memorable lines with metrical accomplishment – here is a new name that deserves to be noticed. (Robyn Bolam)

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Matlock 6 Oct 2010
Format:Hardcover
ON THE CORNER OF ARUNDEL LANE AND CHARLES STREET is an impressive debut: Tony Williams can already handle a range of styles, tones, and form. The two things I like most are the scathing wit and balanced lyricism. The barbed humour is recognisably northern; this comes across particularly in the excellent monologues, such as 'The Matlock Elegies'. The comic poems hit the right notes (such as `Homage to Julian Metcalf', which is also available as a web poem), but they are also counterbalanced with the lyricism of poems such as 'The Civil War', with lines such as: '... lolls instead in the meadow of its crime./ Off-shore the mackerel, blank ... Vertically the cloud builds over a parkland lime'. I was also impressed with the way Williams takes on poetic poetics with, for example, the use of apostrophe ('O on the tarmac'). The collection overall is concerned with the contemporary pastoral, a land where old farm buildings have an unsettling presence, and farmers complain of dogging parties in the lanes. Williams's second collection will be eagerly awaited.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't miss out!! 15 Sep 2010
By JT
Format:Hardcover
Williams casts his eye over town and country delighting in the disarranged. He unearths characters and locations at once familiar and bizarre and in the telling of their stories he discloses the ravages of time. He questions life with wit, insight and a joy in his craft and the result is this highly enjoyable and charming, must-have collection.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant poet, brilliant book 25 May 2011
Format:Hardcover
I had the pleasure of seeing Tony Williams read, he was funny and witty. When I got back I bought the book, and it arrived a few days later, I wasn't disappointed. This book tackles a wide variety of subjects using great and innovztive imagery and is well worth a read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From the Shadowland 8 Sep 2010
By rmk
Format:Hardcover
Tony Williams displays great invention, dark humour and a side-line in verbal gymnastics in a collection which will at least be different from anything else you read this year. Much of it centres on place, from countryside scenes to city margins, but there are few conventional pastoral idylls. The images are often unsettling, all the more so for their apparent familiarity. Williams makes the familiar seem strange, as in `Pressure', which closes:

It rains, on and off. Leaves and sap and aphids and putrid berries
cover the cars parked neatly down one side of the road.
The local stray trots down the middle: cautious, recalcitrant,
it barks responsibly when a back door slams.

The poems are complex, but rarely obscure. I never felt any of them unlocked all they had to offer in a single read, a big plus point in my view. Beneath the surface of a Williams landscape, there's usually a shadowland waiting to be discovered, much like the unknown, faceless predator of `Tenebrio', which drifts "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."

Williams's subject-matter and themes are varied and imaginative, the formal decisions assured and intelligent. And he has a gift for finding great opening lines. For instance:

Not every song of praise begins
skulking around dingy shrubberies
in the grounds of old hotels (from `Variation on the Fourth Eclogue')

and:

Its black, unopenable door
is what the village really thinks (from `The Lame Dog at Monyash')

This is a rich, funny, and satisfyingly curious book, which repays close attention in ways that only poetry can.
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