New work from the Pulitzer-Prize winning author of Repair
. . . Reality has put itself so solidly before me there's little need for mystery . . . Except for us, for how we take the world to us, and make it more, more than we are, more even than itself.
from "The World"
In his first volume since Repair, C. K. Williams treats the characteristic subjects of a poet's maturitythe loss of friends, the love of grandchildren, the receding memories of childhood, the baffling illogic of current eventswith an intensity and drive that recall not only his recent work but also his early books, published forty years ago. He gazes at a Rembrandt self-portrait, and from it fashions a self-portrait of his own. He ponders an "anatomical effigy" at the Museum of Mankind, an in so doing "dissects" our common humanity. Stoking a fire at a house in the country, he recalls a friend who was burned horribly in war, and then turns, with eloquence and authority, to contemporary life during wartime, asking "how those with power over us can effect these things, by what cynical reasoning do they pardon themselves." The Singing is a direct and resonant book: touching, searching, heartfelt, permanent.
Williams's scorching honesty has always been his calling card. His poetry proceeds not from a verbal impulse, not from a lyrical impulse, not even from a prophetic or visionary impulse, but from a moral impulse. Everything, in his work, is held up to the most exacting ethical scrutiny, beginning with the poet himself. Implicitly, and often explicitly, this scrutiny extends to very act of writing poems in the first place. And so while other poets sometimes make a show of questioning the value of poetry, Williams really means it. William Deresiewicz