Since his first poetry collection, Lies, C. K. Williams has nurtured an incomparable reputation--as a deeply moral poet, a writer of profound emotion, and a teller of compelling stories. In Writers Writing Dying, he retains the essential parts of his poetic identity--his candor, the drama of his verses, the social conscience of his themes--while slyly reinventing himself, re-casting his voice, and in many poems examining the personal--sexual desire, the hubris of youth, the looming specter of death--more bluntly and bravely than ever. In "(BProse," he confronts his nineteen year-old self, who despairs of writing poetry, with the question "(BHow could anyone know this little?" In a poem of meditation, "(BThe Day Continues Lovely," he radically expands the scale of his attention: "(BMeanwhile cosmos roars on with so many voices we can't hear ourselves think. Galaxy on. Galaxy off. Universe on, but another just behind this one . . . " Even the poet's own purpose is questioned; in "(BDraft 23" he asks, "(BBetween scribble and slash--are we trying to change the world by changing the words?" With this wildly vibrant collection--by turns funny, moving, and surprising--Williams proves once again that, he has, in Michael Hofmann's words, "(Bas much scope and truthfulness as any American poet since Lowell and Berryman."
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