Saturday, January 06, 2007

The Singing by C. K. Williams

What I like in poetry are stories with words that paint pictures in my mind. In the first section of The Singing by C. K. Williams, there are plenty. A blind piano teach raps the fingers of a student with a baton. A coed falls from the window of a dormitory. A ghost comes to Christmas dinner. The poet looks closely into the eyes of Rembrandt's self portrait. As I read, I saw all of these events and shared the poet's experiences.

The second section, a longer poem called "Of Childhood the Dark," is divided into fourteen ten-verse parts. While it lacks narrative, it includes many ideas, such as human desire being the real Pandora's box.

In the third section, Williams witnesses the decline and death of a friend and describes his difficult acceptance of his loss. The fourth section is a strong collection of post-September 11 poems, which seem neither despairing nor optomistic.

Though Williams won the 2003 National Book Award for poetry with this collection, it is not in many libraries. It can still be purchased, but some libraries may want to buy Williams's new Collected Poems (containing these poems) instead.

Williams, C. K. The Singing. New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 2003. ISBN 0374292868

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