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Curtain Call: 101 Portraits in Verse

by Hugo Williams

This is a wonderful anthology. It includes portraits of all kinds of people, both historical/famous and anonymous; portraits of relatives, group portraits and even one of a cat and one of a train station! The range is wide but not overwhelming - 101 poems by almost as many poets - from Catallus (c.84-54 BC) to Michael Hofmann (1957-). The poems are vaguely grouped together according to theme (a great daisy chain), which gives a pleasant sense of continuity.

Extract


The WORD was that Hard Rock wasn't a mean nigger
Anymore, that the doctors had bored a hole in his head,
Cut out part of his brain, and shot electicity
Through the rest. When they brought Hard Rock back,
Handcuffed and chained, he was turned loose,
Like a freshly gelded stallion, to try his new status.
And we all waited and watched, like indians at a corral,
To see if the WORD was true

from Hard Rock Returns to Prison from the Hospital for the Criminal Insane

Parallels

  • The National Portrait Gallery
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