Poems by David Hughes
Edited with an introduction by Antony Dunn
5 November 2015
David Hughes shared his love of English Literature with hundreds of students during his thirty years of teaching. His own writing – around two hundred finished poems – was for the most part unknown, its ‘diffident, modest’ author only occasionally seeking publication.
Ex Libris is, therefore, a long-awaited first chance for readers to appreciate the breadth and depth of a truly remarkable body of work. Selected and edited with great care by Antony Dunn, the poems are illuminated by a compelling introduction, offering ‘a little privileged insight’ into the circumstances surrounding their creation.
Displaying a fascinating, original approach to subjects such as the impact of war on the individual, the mountainous landscapes of northern Europe and the ecology of school, Ex Libris is a major publication which introduces a significant new voice into the canon of British poetry.
“If you only discover one writer this year, make it David Hughes – his is a poetry of generous precision, grace and gratitude.”
“A wonderful collection by a poet whose work has been saved from oblivion by an act of love.”
“Ex Libris stands out: this is not just a good man’s life, but a testament, as few books of poetry actually are – poetry as an exemplary response. This is a quality collection, to be heralded and appreciated for its deftness of line, musicality of ear and sensibility addressing major themes.”
David Hughes (1952–2011) was born and raised in Liverpool. Between 1975 and 2004, he taught English Literature and Language at St Peter’s School, York.
During his lifetime, David’s poetry appeared in a variety of magazines and anthologies, including The North and Poetry Scotland. This posthumous first collection of his work, Ex Libris, is edited and introduced by former St Peter’s pupil Antony Dunn.
I am driving west for Christmas,
towards the M40, Oxford ahead of me.
In my mirror a full moon hangs
low over London, and the radio
murmurs on without distraction
except for the News. Poland
has Military Rulers, and Christmas,
foodless under steady snow,
is in doubt. There is rioting
in Gdansk, and in Katowice small groups
resist the Militia hopelessly;
but I am untouched until at Uxbridge
I pass the eagled column, for Polish airmen
forty years ago defending us. Overhead
white contrails drift in blue September skies
while I think eastwards where others alone
or in convoy travel bearing gifts.
The sun clouds, then sets; and my headlamps
light on flakes suddenly rising in the arc
of wipers. I queue at every junction.