The maker of these strange pieces was an inmate of an asylum somewhere in
Central Europe in the first decades of the 20th century. His fevered versions of the sonnet form were painted on to ceramic tiles, since smashed, and now pieced together to give some partial access to his world of mental anguish, incarceration and dreams of flight.
Inspired by the great artists celebrated by Hans Prinzhorn in his famous work The Artistry of the Mentally Ill, Tony Williams has explored what it might mean to create literature under such conditions of stress. These highly formal and dreamlike poems do not exploit their subject. Instead they seek to dramatise complex meditations on landscape and identity by taking on an anxious, urgent voice whose power is founded on a strange and scornful idiosyncrasy.
Praise for Tony Williams:
'To read Williams's work is to be convinced afresh that this is an exciting time
- Sean O’Brien, Poetry Review
'From all our cultural loam and junk, Williams has made real magic.'
- Frances Leviston, The Guardian