Photograph © Richard Williams
On the success or otherwise of disposable barbecues
Not like that time at West Wittering,
a gaggle of teenage girls,
enough matches to model a battleship.
Each sparked a flicker of yellow
a barbecue that wouldn’t burn.
Eventually we got it going,
huddled bags and boxes around
damp coal and spent splints of wood.
The wind dropped enough
for smoke to just about take hold,
too fast the flames were done.
This time we were promised instant light;
for once the marketing spiel was true,
and as the sky began to turn
a mellower shade of gold,
the last of the kite-surfers
packed up and drove home.
On the other side of the Solent,
streetlamps from Ryde to Bembridge
were necklaces of precious jewels.
As charcoal embers glowed,
we sank fingers into the shingle,
took every breath as if it was our first.
© Richard Williams
Both of Richard Williams’s parents were originally from Portsmouth, but Richard was born in Birmingham in 1965, and grew up in Frome, subsequently living in London, before the pull of this city on the south coast became too great. Married with three children, living in a typical Pompey terraced house, Richard works in recruitment and has a sideline business as an online trader of art prints, photography & sporting memorabilia.
First poem to appear in print was in the Frome CND Newsletter back in 1983 (if anyone happens to have a copy...). Has subsequently had over 100 poems appear in various magazines, collections and online publications. Was on the committee of Tongues & Grooves in the Community for a number of years from 2009, and in that capacity arranged various events including poetry workshops at Haslar IRC, and screenings of Poems of Exile on the BBC Big Screens in Portsmouth and Dover.
Published October 2018
67 pages, 38 poems
A5 paperback, perfect-bound
'From the Electric Arms and Istanbul Grill to the Feng Shui Shop on Fratton Road and the twice won FA Cup – the UK’s most densely populated city is Richard Williams' oyster. Portsmouth may be all about location, but how can we hang on to our dreams when surrounded by flat-fronted houses and disposable barbecues? Williams keeps his sensibility intact by transforming his observations into finely-tuned poems that go way beyond the provincial. In his powerful eponymous poem ‘Landings’, spanning Manchester to Mogadishu via the moon, he warns against passive voyeurism, as if ‘imagining could never be enough’. These imaginative poems evoke what it is to be human – they are celebratory, sad, funny and wise.'
Winner of the Ted Hughes Prize for Poetry, 2014