Publication date: 7th July 2014
The Midlands is the second collection of poems by Tony Williams, following his acclaimed debut The Corner of Arundel Lane and Charles Street. Beginning in the Midlands themselves, where Mercian kings sleep under wurzels near the local Asda, his poems open out into tragi-comic paeans on dog walks, photocopiers, shut shops and lunchtimes, and meditations on what it means to be a person living, wonkily, anywhere. But beneath the word-play and tomfoolery, something strange is brooding in the caverns underneath the hill. History is coming for you, and if you set out to meet it, you’ll never find your way home…
"In poems giddy with place and what it means to explore place, Tony Williams establishes a midway, between-times territory where the ghosts of Arnold Bennett, Chopin and a sad minister’s daughter, who ‘wears a dress above her ache,’ wander muddy fields and spectral pigsties. If this sounds weird, it is. But it’s a weird world that history leaves us to make our way through, and The Midlands is full of the fearsome merriment and hair-raising power that comes of recognising and recording this. Great feeling, vital ways of seeing and startling music run like veins of silver through this brilliant book." – Jacob Polley
"Never mind the geography, these poems go far beyond the Midlands. They start from that caved, mined and milled country, its people and its names - but Tony Williams' landscape is also one of great humanity and surprise. Between pigsties and the partridges the poems give us photocopiers, hippopotamus, and narrators who share the subtle rhythms and wit of English speech. Williams builds poems as solid as fine architecture, but has a pastry chef’s lightness of touch. The Midlands is a fine collection of poems, playing the conversational music of contemporary poetry at its best." – Jo Bell
Tony Williams grew up in Matlock in Derbyshire and now lives in Northumberland. His first collection The Corner of Arundel Lane and Charles Street was shortlisted for the Aldeburgh, Portico and Michael Murphy Prizes, and All the Rooms of Uncle’s Head was a Poetry Book Society Pamphlet Choice. He also writes prose fiction. The Midlands is his second collection of poetry.