Book #7: The Singing by CK Williams

Yes, I know; I keep putting off Demanding the Impossible. Like I said, last week was really packed, and time to read was scarce. This one was short, and it actually helped me get through some really crazy work days. Anyway, onto the review…

9780374292867I have this awesome friend named Mike. For the last couple Christmases, Mike has been buying me poetry books from different contemporary poets, and I have enjoyed every single one thus far, and CK Williams is no exception. His collection The Singing was my first exposure to his works, and an excellent collection it is.

Describing poetry collections is a lot different from telling you about the premise of a novel, or the subject material on a work of Christology. Poets are better known by the themes they use in their works; for example, Poe focused on melancholy and darker sides of human nature. Williams focuses (it seems) on the extraordinary quality of life’s seemingly mundane moments, though with a twinge of lament and sadness for the average person’s inability to see them. His piece “Dissections,” where he walks through one of those exhibits displaying different parts of the human anatomy, speaks to our error as humans to dehumanize one another, to view each other as objects for study, and forgetting our own humanity in the process.

The piece that really grabbed my attention, however, was “Elegy for an Artist,” which he dedicated to his friend Bruce McGrew. The multiple-sectioned poem discusses his passage through the grieving process of his friend’s death, and it’s pretty obvious this wasn’t just something he speculated on; he lived through it, pain and all. I actually took the time to read this on the way up to a funeral last Friday, and all I could think of was my grandmother, who lost a battle with cancer over six years ago. I remember grieving over her passing, how much I wished to be sitting in her kitchen with her, talking about whatever was on our minds and drinking whatever soda she kept on her back porch (sarsaparilla, usually). When something like that is gone, you ache for it, and wish you had opened your eyes a little wider to see how beautiful that moment in history really was/is. When I finished the poem, the sky actually looked a lot bluer than it did before, and I still notice it today.

I also liked how accessible Williams writes; for some, poetry is too complicated to understand, and some poets deliberately write that way. Williams’ style is more conversational, and I think even a newcomer to the world of poetry would pick up on what he’s laying down. His three-part piece Fear is a good example, much as it skeeved me out.

Overall, this was an excellent read, and I plan on returning to it over and over again in the future.  It’s great for wading into the poetry world without getting too overwhelmed by how complex it can get. Check it out!


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