man watching a poetry video

Poetry scene news

Heathcote Williams has died | 06-Jul-17

The visionary Heathcote Williams, a poet, playwright, polemicist, humorist, actor and activist, has died aged 75. 

Opinionated and "perpetually incensed", Williams brought intellectual anarchy back to public attention. He invented his own investigative poetic style and used this to bring to light important political and environmental issues throughout his career.

Born in 1941, John Henley Heathcote-Williams changed his name during his school days at Eton. In 2016, in pleasing cyclical fashion, Williams responded to contemporary political events (involving a certain fellow Etonian) with The Blond Beast of Brexit: a Study in Depravity, a pamphlet collecting a collage of Boris Johnson's most maniacal, hypocritical and cruel moments.

Williams' infamous anger (inspired by injustice but not without beauty and humour) is best displayed in three of his great poems, written towards the end of the 1980s: Whale Nation, a hymn to the largest of all the mammals and a plea for their protection, Sacred Elephant, and Autogeddon, a JG Ballard-style ballad about the plague of the motor car. 

His poetry and pamphlets appeared throughout his life, many self-published or distributed privately. Williams was notoriously against any kind of self-promotion on a commercial level. He famously refused to go on tour and claimed the only ever signing-tour he did do was "enough to cripple a rock star".

Read more about Heathcote Williams' life on The Guardian 


:: Back to Poetry scene News ::

Back to top Register for newsletter
Bookmark This Page