Freelancing: Adventures of a Poet


Since beginning his ‘Freelance’ column in the Times Literary Supplement in 1988, poet and travel-writer Hugo Williams has visited Sarajevo, Central America, Jerusalem, Skyros, Portugal and Norwich. Part-time teaching jobs, literary festivals and writing courses have kept him both busy and bemused, but he has also found time to get a taste of roistering, cross-dressing, tight-rope walking, drug-scoring, fashion modelling and archaeology. Memories of his apprenticeship at the London Magazine and of Soho in the ’70s, encounters with the likes of Yevgeny Yevtushenko, Gioconda Belli and the station master at Gospel Oak, news of a bogus ‘Ted Hughes’, evocations of the theatrical world of his parents and of his wife’s French childhood – these are among the things that have occupied his constantly questing mind.
The despatches collected in Freelancing amount to a piecemeal autobiography, in the course of which the author’s Selected Poems are published, his mother dies, his wife inherits a chateau and he crashes his motorbike. Always elegantly turned, frequently hilarious, at times surprisingly poignant, Hugo Williams’s column has earned him a devoted following among readers of the TLS – one due to be enlarged by the publication of this book.