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The Corner of Arundel Lane and Charles Street By Tony Williams

The Corner of Arundel Lane and Charles Street

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Elegant, intelligent, charming and memorable, these poems reinvent the pastoral for dark times, crossing the contemporary English landscape from the city to provincial towns and villages. Their stylish and original treatments of the dreamy, the nightmarish and the absurd are both accessible and striking, both serious and very funny.

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The Corner of Arundel Lane and Charles Street Summary


The Corner of Arundel Lane and Charles Street by Tony Williams

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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The Corner of Arundel Lane and Charles Street Reviews


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 *

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 *

About Tony Williams


Tony Williams's All the Bananas I've Never Eaten won the Saboteur Award for best short story collection. His poetry includes The Corner of Arundel Lane and Charles Street and The Midlands. He lived in Sheffield for more than a decade before moving to rural Northumberland. He works in Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

Table of Contents


  • Sand
  • How Good it Sounded
  • I Leave Myself
  • The Matlock Elegies
  • For My Brother
  • The Rubicon
  • Gawain and the Green Shade
  • The Lame Dog at Monyash
  • Landscape for August Natterer
  • The Town of K., in the Province of M.
  • A Missing Person
  • Notice of Death
  • The Civil War
  • Great Edwardian
  • The Vision
  • The Fence
  • The Corrugated Soul
  • Pressure
  • Bus Between Towns
  • A Lowland Palsy
  • Tenebrio
  • The Winter Silage
  • Reproductive Behaviour of the Dark
  • Argument About the Definition of Red
  • My Love
  • A Room of Old Presses Reprinting a Great Work
  • Poem for Tuesday
  • Ed Parsons Remembers
  • The Vile Organ
  • Metcalf's Development
  • Homage to Julian Metcalf
  • You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'
  • Variations on a Form by Gottfried Benn and Babette Deutsch
  • Gravel
  • The Looking Behind Walls Club
  • The Old Harlequin
  • The Corner of Arundel Lane and Charles Street
  • Late Schoolboys
  • In Praise of Tinkering
  • The Triumph of Orthodoxy
  • Icon of a Bloke in Glasses Opening a Window
  • Variation on the Fourth Eclogue
  • A Carp
  • Izaak Walton's Flight
  • The Flowers Singing

Additional information

GOR006911526
The Corner of Arundel Lane and Charles Street by Tony Williams
Tony Williams
Salt Modern Poets
Used - Very Good
Paperback
Salt Publishing
2010-11-15
84
184471926X
9781844719266
Short-listed for The Portico Prize 2010 (UK) Short-listed for Aldeburgh First Collection Prize 2010 (UK) Short-listed for The Michael Murphy Memorial Prize 2011 (UK)
Book picture is for illustrative purposes only, actual binding, cover or edition may vary.
This is a used book - there is no escaping the fact it has been read by someone else and it will show signs of wear and previous use. Overall we expect it to be in very good condition, but if you are not entirely satisfied please get in touch with us.