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Saturday, November 14, 2015

Waiting for 'that music'

“Poems have a different music from ordinary language, and every poem has a different kind of music of necessity.  That's, in a way, the hardest thing about writing poetry; waiting for that music, and sometimes you never know if it's going to come.” – C.K. Williams

American poet, critic and translator, Charles Kenneth “C.K.,” Williams won nearly every major poetry award including the 1987 National Book Critics Circle Award for Flesh and Blood, the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for Repair, the 2003 National Book Award for The Singing, and the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize for lifetime achievement.  In 2012 the film Tar depicted Williams’ life using segments of his poem by the same name.

Fellow poet Stanley Kunitz once wrote of him that, “C. K. Williams is a wonderful poet, in the authentic American tradition of Walt Whitman and William Carlos Williams, who tells us on every page what it means to be alive in our time.”

Williams, who died in September just shy
of his 79th birthday, also was also an acclaimed
translator, notably of Sophocles’ Women of Trachis and Euripides’ The Bacchae, as well as of the Polish poet Adam Zagajewski and the French poet Francis Ponge.  But, he said, it was the writing of his own poetry that gave him the most pleasure.

“When you begin to write poems because you love language, because you love poetry,” he said,  “ the writing of poems becomes incredibly pleasurable and addictive.”

SILENCE by C.K. Williams

The heron methodically pacing like an old-time librarian down the stream through the patch of woods at the end of the field, those great wings tucked in as neatly as clean sheets, is so intent on keeping her silence, extracting one leg, bending it like a paper clip, placing it back, then bending the other, the first again, that her concentration radiates out into the listening world, and everything obediently hushes, the ragged grasses that rise from the water, the light-sliced vault of sparkling aspens.

Then abruptly a flurry, a flapping, her lifting from the gravitied earth, her swoop out over the field, her banking and settling on a lightning-stricken oak, such a gangly, unwieldy contraption up there in the barkless branches, like a still Adam's-appled adolescent; then the cry, cranky, coarse, and wouldn't the waiting world laugh aloud if it could with glee?

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